Royals to Test Interleague Strength at Colorado

By: By DAN PIERINGER, STATS Writer
By: By DAN PIERINGER, STATS Writer

Despite having fewer wins than any other team over the last two seasons, the Kansas City Royals have somehow posted a winning record in interleague play in that stretch.

The lowly Royals look to continue their recent interleague success as they open a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies on Friday night at Coors Field.

Kansas City (15-27) had the second-worst record in the majors last year at 62-100, but went 10-8 against the NL. In 2005, the Royals managed only 56 wins, but nine of them came in the team's 18 interleague contests.

The Royals may again have baseball's worst record but they have won four of their last five games. They won 7-4 against Oakland on Thursday to win three of four against the Athletics.

"To take three of four is a huge feat, especially the way we have been playing up to this point in the season," said Mike Sweeney, who went 2-for-3 on Thursday and is 5-for-11 with a home run and six RBIs in three career games against Colorado. "There's a good group of guys here and we're working hard to come together as a team. The record may not show it now, but come October it will."

Despite their solid interleague play over the last two seasons, the Royals were swept in their last three-game set against the Rockies (17-24) from June 24-26, 2005. Colorado lost two of three at home to Kansas City in 2003 in the only other series between the clubs.

The Rockies went an NL-best 11-4 in interleague play last year, outscoring opponents 88-46 while batting .283.

Colorado has lost seven of its last 11 games, however, as its offense continues to struggle this year. The Rockies are batting just. 219 in that span, and have scored more than three runs in only three of those contests after managing five hits in a 3-1 loss to Arizona on Thursday.

"We play one game good and two games bad," Colorado star Todd Helton told the team's official Web site. "I don't know what we need."

Facing Kansas City could help, as the Rockies have scored 49 runs in their six games against the Royals. Helton is 8-for-20 with a homer and eight RBIs in five games against them, while Garrett Atkins has driven in five runs while going 8-for-14 in three games.

The Rockies will send left-hander Jeff Francis (2-4, 5.08 ERA) to the mound in search of his first back-to-back wins since Sept. 17-23. On Saturday, Francis held San Francisco to two runs and four hits in eight innings for his first victory since April 9 as the Rockies won 6-2.

He won his only start against Kansas City after allowing two runs over seven innings in a 4-2 victory on June 25, 2005.

Royals outfielder Emil Brown went 2-for-3 against Francis in that game, and is a career .345 (51-for-148) hitter in 48 interleague games. He went 24-for-59 (.407) with a homer and 12 RBIs in 16 games against the NL last year.

Jorge De La Rosa (4-3, 3.68) gets the start for Kansas City, coming off one of his most impressive victories of the year. De La Rosa limited the Chicago White Sox to one run and three hits in seven innings in a 11-1 win on Sunday.

The left-hander is starting against the Rockies for the first time after two brief relief appearances against them.


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