The Kansas City Royals travel across the state of Missouri -- a three-hour drive along Interstate 70 -- for a quick, two-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals beginning Tuesday evening. The Cardinals own a 56-41 advantage in the all-time regular-season series.
Absent a sweep by either club, both teams will continue their run of futility. Both clubs have lost five consecutive series.
The Royals haven't won a series since a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians from April 12-14, going 0-9-1 in 10 series during that span, and they have not won a series on the road all season.
The Cardinals have not won a series since a sweep at Washington from April 29-May 1. They are 5-13 in May.
"Guys scratching and clawing didn't get the reward," manager Mike Shildt told reporters Sunday after the Cardinals' 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Texas Rangers. "Ultimately we've got to put it together."
Inconsistency continues to plague St. Louis. One game the offense struggles (two combined runs in the final two games in Atlanta), while other games see the starters not getting the job done (Miles Mikolas allowed seven runs in less than two innings against Texas on Friday). Sometimes it's the bullpen, as was the case Sunday when Andrew Miller gave up one go-ahead run in the eighth inning and Jordan Hicks gave up two runs in the 10th.
"I think it wears on you a little bit, but you have to draw from experience," Miller said. "This is not the stretch we want to be in. We want to be in the stretch where there's music playing every time we come off the field and we're winning games and winning series. But right now, it's one little thing every day it feels like.
"That doesn't put a dent in our confidence or change who we think we are. It's digging a little bit of a hole. It's a long season. We'll take our chances."
Wacha has not been his usual dominating self. He seems to be battling mechanics and his fastball has lost some zip. He has not pitched more than six innings in any start this season, and his WHIP is 1.64. He has walked 26 batters in 42 innings.
Bailey left his last start after only 4 1/3 innings when he fell apart following a good first four innings against the Rangers. After allowing a solo home run in the fourth inning, Bailey walked the No. 9 hitter leading off the fifth, then gave up three consecutive singles (though the third one was an infield popup that should have been caught).
"That was probably my fault more than anything," Bailey said of the popup that dropped between him and Adalberto Mondesi. "I heard him coming in, so I didn't keep backing up. I anticipated him calling me off. It's my fault more than anything. I saw it the whole way."
After a strikeout, he walked two batters to force in a run. Reliever Brad Boxberger allowed two inherited runners to score.
Bailey has a poor career mark against the Cardinals: 6-15 with a 5.56 ERA in 27 starts. Wacha is 3-1 with a 2.56 ERA in six career starts vs. Kansas City.
The Royals have endured inconsistencies similar to those of the Cardinals.
Danny Duffy allowed just one run on five hits and three walks in six innings Sunday in a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. He also struck out five and hit one batter.
Duffy has won each of his past three starts, but the Royals gave up at least five runs in each of the seven games prior to Sunday. And though the offense, primarily in the top half, has been productive, they haven't consistently come through in the clutch.
"Right now we're just not driving in runs," Royals manager Ned Yost told the media. "It's not anything that you can point your finger at. It's just the ups and downs of the game. You know, you get hot. Then sometimes you just get cold. Right now, we're a little on the cold side."
--Field Level Media