Yankees-Royals Preview


The Kansas City Royals are off to a horrific start at Kauffman Stadium, and it doesn't appear like things will get any easier with visits from a couple of traditional powers.

The Royals again look for that elusive first home win in Thursday night's series opener against a New York Yankees team that has typically enjoyed its visits to Kansas City.

As host of the All-Star game and with a strong core of young and talented players, there has been an extra buzz surrounding the Royals in Kansas City. So far, however, fans haven't had anything to cheer about.

In their first homestand April 13-23, the Royals (7-16) were swept by Cleveland and Detroit in three games and Toronto in four. The 10-game home losing streak is the longest single-season slide in franchise history and is baseball's worst home start since the Chicago Cubs opened 0-12 at Wrigley Field in 1994.

Billy Butler, who has a team-high 16 RBIs, is 0 for 14 in the last four games at Kauffman, while Eric Hosmer, who is tied with Butler for the team lead with five homers, is hitting .185 in his last seven there.

"We had a horrible homestand," manager Ned Yost told the Royals' official website. "It doesn't have any impact on this homestand."

This one appears like it could be even tougher for Kansas City, which is coming off Wednesday's 3-2 win over Detroit. The Yankees are coming to town for four games and Boston for three, and both teams usually bring hoards of fans with them.

"Trust me, we didn't plan this thing out - let's play crappy until we play the Yankees and Boston, then we'll play good," Yost said.

The Yankees (13-11) are typically the ones doing that in Kansas City. They took two of three at Kauffman last season, and are 15-8 there since 2006.

One of New York's victories at Kauffman last year came against scheduled starter Danny Duffy (1-2, 3.63 ERA) in what was easily the worst outing of his career.

As a rookie, Duffy was tagged for eight runs and eight hits while walking two and hitting two in three innings of a 9-7 loss on Aug. 16. Robinson Cano had a three-run homer and single, while Derek Jeter had an RBI double. Jeter, who is batting .449 in 11 road games, went 9 for 15 with two doubles and five RBIs in Kansas City last season.

Duffy missed his last start because of tightness in his left elbow, and hasn't pitched since laboring through 4 2-3 innings in a 5-3 loss to Toronto on April 22. The left-hander gave up four runs, five hits and five walks while throwing 113 pitches. He also struck out five, and now has 20 strikeouts in 17 1-3 innings.

The Yankees have the second-fewest strikeouts in the AL with 154, but fanned 10 times in Wednesday's 5-0 loss to Baltimore.

New York's offense is scuffling a bit, combining for three runs in dropping two of three after plating at least five in each of its previous three.

Cano has driven in just one run in his last 12 contests, but hit .348 with two homers and six RBIs against the Royals last season.

In Thursday's opener, rookie David Phelps (0-0, 3.57) is slated to make his first major league start.

Phelps, who is taking the place of the ineffective Freddy Garcia, has pitched 17 2-3 innings - giving up four homers - over six relief appearances. The right-hander made 20 minor league starts a year ago, going 7-7 with a 2.99 ERA.

"There's nothing that tells me he can't be a major league starter," manager Joe Girardi said.