The Royals send their hottest pitcher to the hill Thursday when they try for a three-game sweep and eighth win in nine home meetings against the road-weary Tampa Bay Rays .
Kansas City (15-10) fell into a 5-0 hole Wednesday and appeared to be on its way to a third loss in four games, but closed the deficit to 5-4 before scoring five times in the sixth inning for a 9-6 lead.
The Royals look to carry over their momentum as they go for their first sweep since taking three in a row from Minnesota in their first home series.
Since losing his debut with the Royals, Santana (3-1, 2.00 ERA) has been outstanding with a 3-0 record and a 1.20 ERA over his last four starts - all Kansas City victories.
The right-hander put together his best outing Saturday when he allowed six singles over seven shutout innings in a 3-2 win over Cleveland."He's been pretty electric," first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
Santana, though, hasn't fared nearly as well in 13 starts against the Rays, going 5-6 with a 5.47 ERA. He's allowed 15 runs and seven homers over his last 16 1-3 innings versus Tampa Bay.
It's not likely to be any easier this time against the Rays (12-15), who have totaled 28 runs and batted .314 with eight home runs in the last four games.
Tampa Bay, however, fell to 2-4 on its 10-game trip and has lost 11 of 15 on the road overall."We actually did a lot of things well, another good offensive night," manager Joe Maddon said. "For the pitching to come apart is really unusual for us."
Evan Longoria , who went 3 for 5 with a double and triple Wednesday, is 5 for 12 with a pair of homers against Santana.
In only his second start due to a calf injury, Luke Scott had three hits - including his first home run. He's also 8 for 21 with two doubles and two homers in this matchup.
James Loney is also swinging a hot bat, going 11 for 23 over his last five contests.
Tampa Bay's Roberto Hernandez (1-4, 5.28) will try to bounce back after falling to 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA in three road starts with a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday. The right-hander allowed five runs and a career-worst three homers over six innings."I tried to keep the ball down to get a ground ball but I couldn't get the ground ball," said Hernandez, who is 2-2 with a 5.92 ERA in seven career starts in Kansas City.
Alex Gordon has given Hernandez trouble throughout his career with 15 hits - including a homer and four doubles - in 31 at-bats.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|April 27, 2013||Jose Molina||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|April 25, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|March 31, 2013||Juan Carlos Oviedo||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 28, 2013||Jeff Niemann||60-Day DL||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|March 24, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|March 24, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|Kansas City Royals|
|March 31, 2013||Danny Duffy||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|February 12, 2013||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Rain started to fall at first pitch, and by the time the Kansas City Royals ' game against the Tampa Bay Rays was postponed Thursday afternoon, Kauffman Stadium resembled a snow globe.
Fat flakes were sticking to the field, and members of both teams popped out of their dugouts to take in a spectacle more suited to January or February. There hasn't been measurable snow in May in Kansas City since 1907.
No makeup date was set and the game will be replayed in its entirety - Kansas City led 1-0 midway through the fourth inning when it was called. The Rays weren't scheduled to return to Kansas City again this season.
"It's not just about playing five innings. It's about playing nine," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "If you don't think you can get in nine innings, I think it's the appropriate thing to do."
The Royals were ahead after an RBI single by Alex Gordon . But once the tarp was pulled onto the field, it began to appear increasingly unlikely that Kansas City wouldn't get the three more outs it needed to qualify for a win.
Naturally, that left plenty of Royals frustrated.
"I said, `Let's throw down some dirt and let's try to get it in,"' said Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur , adding that the game shouldn't have been started if it wasn't going to be finished.
"We played four innings. Why not play one more?" Gordon asked. "Now we just have to cancel another off day and play it again."
Kansas City already has had three games postponed due to weather, and another against the Red Sox postponed during the search for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects last month.
The Rays had a game against Boston rained out on April 12.
"I think they pushed the envelope as far as they could to get the game in," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "They did everything they could do to get as far as we could."
The temperature was 41 degrees with winds gusting to 31 mph and rain just beginning to fall when the Royals' Ervin Santana threw the first pitch. The conditions continued to deteriorate as some of the players, dressed in stocking caps and gloves, ran in place to stay warm.
"It was not good from the very first pitch," Maddon said. "It was slick, nasty and cold and raining. It's not your typical good baseball day."
When snow starting to fall, the creative team operating Kauffman Stadium played the Yule Log video on the massive screen in center field and "Let It Snow" on the loudspeakers.
The game was delayed 2 hours, 20 minutes before the umpires finally called it.
None of the makeup options are appealing.
Two mutual days off would each force the Royals to play more than 20 consecutive days, and July 29 would mean Kansas City would have to swing home between games in Chicago and Minnesota, and the Rays would have to stop by while returning home from New York.
The Royals play at Tampa Bay from June 14-16.
While the game was suspended, the grounds crew optimistically tried to get the field ready should a window allow its completion. First, they used a couple of big fans to blow air under the tarp and dry out the infield dirt. Then, they peeled back half of the tarp and prepped one half of the infield, recovered it, and peeled back the other half to do the same thing.
They even managed to paint fresh lines during a short period of light precipitation, only for the freezing rain to pick up again and the tarp to go back on the field.
When the delay reached the 2-hour mark, the rain turned to snow, and members of the Rays and Royals started popping up in their dugouts to take pictures of the flakes falling.
The high temperature barely eked over 40 degrees, and that was overnight, unofficially breaking the record for coldest high temperature on May 2 of 48 degrees set in 1917.
It could be even worse on May 3, too.
The White Sox are due in town Friday night to start a three-game series, but the forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s and a 50-percent chance of precipitation at first pitch.
"I try not to get frustrated over things I can't control," Yost said. "I can't control the weather. I've tried before and it never worked. You just deal with it. It is what it is."
NOTES: RHP Jeremy Guthrie is scheduled to pitch the Royals' series opener Friday against the White Sox, who have not announced their starter. ... Rays LHP Matt Moore takes the mound in their series opener at Colorado. ... Tampa Bay is 4-11 on the road, its worst start since going 2-13 in 2005. ... The Royals have trailed after the first inning 10 times. They're 8-2 in those games.