J.D. Martinez needs one homer to tie the major-league record for most in September as the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the Kansas City Royals for the middle contest of their three-game series. Martinez’s 16 blasts this month match Ralph Kiner’s National League mark set in 1949 and stand one behind the overall record shared by Babe Ruth (1927) and Albert Belle (1995).
Martinez has been superb for Arizona since being acquired from Detroit, recording 29 homers in 60 contests. Jake Lamb established a new career high for blasts on Friday with his 30th, but it accounted for the Diamondbacks’ lone run in a 2-1 defeat. While Arizona looks forward to its first postseason appearance since 2011, Kansas City is missing the playoffs for the second straight time since winning the World Series in 2015. Whit Merrifield hit his 19th homer for the Royals on Friday and is 6-for-15 during a modest four-game hitting streak.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Diamondbacks RH Taijuan Walker (9-9, 3.54 ERA) vs. Royals RH Jake Junis (8-3, 4.39)
Walker has dropped back-to-back starts to San Francisco and Miami, working a total of 8 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old has posted a solid 2.99 ERA in 15 road starts while compiling a 6-5 record. Walker is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against the Royals, with both coming while with Seattle.
Junis was roughed up in a loss to the New York Yankees in his last turn, when he gave up six runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old won six straight decisions prior to the poor showing, and that streak was just one behind Dennis Leonard (1975) and Tom Gordon (1989) for the longest in franchise history by a first-year pitcher. Junis is 2-0 with a 3.49 ERA in eight home appearances (six starts).
1. Royals C Salvador Perez (groin) sat out Friday after being injured a day earlier and could miss the entire series.
2. Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt has gone 0-for-11 over his last three games to drop to .300 as he seeks his fourth .300 season in five years.
3. Kansas City 3B Mike Moustakas recorded three hits on Friday after going 3-for-19 in his previous six appearances.
PREDICTION: Diamondbacks 6, Royals 4