The Kansas City Royals are getting away with some sub-par efforts from their hitters thanks to a dominant pitching staff. The Royals' pitchers will try to run their streak of allowing fewer than three earned runs to seven straight games when they visit the Texas Rangers for the opener of a four-game series on Thursday.
Kansas City has won five of its last six games despite scoring more than three runs only once in that span, with Tuesday's 2-1 setback against San Francisco serving as the lone loss. Jason Vargas struck out nine and did not walk a batter over seven scoreless innings to outduel Madison Bumgarner in Wednesday's 2-0 triumph and hands the reins to Danny Duffy, who has yet to suffer a loss in 2017. The Rangers had their own problems scoring runs while dropping the final two contests of a three-game set at Oakland this week to cap a 3-6 road trip versus West Division rivals Los Angeles, Seattle and the Athletics. Texas is just 2-4 at home and will try to turn things around behind Andrew Cashner on Thursday.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Kansas City, FSN Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals LH Danny Duffy (2-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Rangers RH Andrew Cashner (0-1, 5.06)
Duffy allowed two runs or fewer in each of his first three starts and held the Angels to one along with three hits while striking out six in seven innings on Friday. The World Baseball Classic champion is limiting opponents to a .203 batting average to help overcome seven walks in 20 frames. Duffy is just 1-1 with a 5.31 ERA in four career starts against Texas but earned a win on July 22 after allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings.
Cashner began the campaign on the disabled list with tightness in his right biceps and could not get any support from his offense in a 5-0 loss on Saturday in his season debut. The veteran Texan allowed four runs - three earned - on five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings while striking out a pair. Kansas City's current roster is just 9-for-38 without a home run against Cashner.
1. Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre (calf) did some light running on Wednesday but is not close to a return.
2. Royals C Salvador Perez is 5-for-12 over his last three games.
3. Texas 3B Joey Gallo hit a solo homer on Wednesday to snap a three-game hitless streak.
PREDICTION: Royals 3, Rangers 1