After series against Cleveland, Boston, Detroit and the Yankees, the Royals will face another hot team this weekend when the Rangers visit Kauffman Stadium for a three-game series. Texas, winner of four straight, will be the first sub-.500 team Kansas City has played since the All-Star break.
Brian Bannister, one of the best pitchers in baseball the past two months, will start Friday. The reigning American League Rookie Pitcher of the Month, Bannister is 6-3 with a 3.19 ERA and has averaged nearly seven innings a start since June 1. In his last outing, Bannister contained the high-octane Tigers and held them to one run over seven innings.
The Royals would like a similar outing against the Rangers. In the first three games (all losses) against the Yankees in the previous series, the rotation combined for 16 innings and 16 earned runs. The boys in blue received 5 1/3 shutout innings from Jorge De La Rosa on Thursday, but they've received just one quality start -- Bannister's outing against Detroit -- in their past six games.
This will be Bannister's first career start against the Rangers. Kansas City hasn't played Texas this season. The teams tied last year's season series, 3-3, and the Royals haven't won the season matchup since 2003.
KC: RHP Brian Bannister (6-6, 3.68 ERA)
Bannister tossed another tremendous start Sunday afternoon against the Tigers. He worked seven innings of one-run ball for his first win -- and first quality start -- in three outings. Bannister has been very effective this year, working at least six innings in nine of his past 10 starts. He has been very good at home (3.83 ERA) but slightly better on the road (3.55). This will be his first career start against the Rangers.
TEX: RHP Jamey Wright (3-2, 4.15 ERA)
Wright left after 3 1/3 innings in his last start, against Cleveland on Saturday, after giving up six walks and one hit batter. He said after the game he couldn't even throw a strike down the middle of the plate during a three-walk fourth inning. The poor outing was a little easier for Wright to stomach, as the Rangers ended up winning the game. Lifetime against the Royals, Wright is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in three starts.
Player to watch
Royals backup catcher Jason LaRue crushes Wright, batting .417 (5-for-12) with two doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs. LaRue usually catches Bannister anyway, so he is the likely starter Friday night.