Kansas City Royals (69-55) at Colorado Rockies (49-75)
Tuesday, August 19 - 8:40 PM EST
Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
The Kansas City Royals have ripped off 21 victories in 26 games to surge to the top of the American League Central as they prepare to open a two-game interleague series at the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night. The Royals, bidding to make the postseason for the first time since 1985, hold a two-game lead over Detroit - the latest they've been in first place since 2003. Kansas City will put a streak on the line, having won eight consecutive series for the first time since 1991.
Things are going so well for the Royals that starting catcher Salvador Perez had to come out of Monday's game due to discomfort in his knee and his replacement, Erik Kratz, swatted a pair of home runs. Colorado enjoyed one of its best days of a woeful season on Sunday by sweeping a doubleheader from Cincinnati, scoring 10 runs in each game. Michael Cuddyer returned from a lengthy stint on the disabled list with a flourish, hitting for the cycle as the Rockies completed the sweep.
TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, ROOT (Denver)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH James Shields (11-6, 3.29 ERA) vs. Rockies LH Tyler Matzek (2-8, 5.50)
Shields did not factor in the decision last time out after yielding three runs and seven hits in six innings against Oakland. He won his previous two outings, including a four-hit shutout of San Francisco, to bounce back from a four-start winless drought and reach 11 victories for the eighth consecutive season. He gave up a pair of homers and five runs in his lone start at Coors Field in June 2007 with Tampa Bay.
Matzek has taken a step back since beating Pittsburgh with seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball on July 26 - his only win since his victorious major-league debut on June 11. He took the loss in relief at the Chicago Cubs three days later and dropped his next three starts - all on the road - by allowing 16 runs and 22 hits over 15 innings. The 23-year-old rookie has surrendered five homers during his three-start skid.
1. Royals LF Alex Gordon has four straight two-hit games and recent acquisition DH Josh Willingham is 5-for-9 in his last two games.
2. Cuddyer is batting .331 in 33 games this season, the same number that won him the NL batting title a year ago.
3. Perez said he felt tightness in his knee but thought he'd be able to play Tuesday.
PREDICTION: Royals 7, Rockies 5