Royals look for back-to-back wins vs. Rays

MLB

Adalberto Mondesi made his long-awaited season debut Tuesday night and it was as if he hadn’t missed a beat.

Coming off the injured list (oblique), the shortstop was 2-for-4 with two doubles as the Royals defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1. The two teams will meet again in the second game of a three-game series on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Royals have made close games the norm lately, with 11 of their last 13 being decided by one or two runs. Kansas City is 7-6 over that span.

The Rays, who saw an 11-game winning streak snapped Tuesday, will rely on right-hander Tyler Glasnow (4-2, 2.90 ERA) Wednesday, while the Royals hope left-hander Mike Minor (3-2, 5.14 ERA) can start a winning streak for them.

Glasnow has struggled, by his lofty standards, as of late. He’s allowed 13 earned runs in 24 1/3 innings (4.81 ERA) in his past four starts. In his most recent start, against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, he allowed five earned runs on a season-high nine hits, in a season-low 4 2/3 innings. He struck out only two after back-to-back double-digit strikeout games.

“I saw Glas being out of sync,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after the game. “I generally ask (pitching coach) Kyle (Snyder) how the bullpen session goes. It wasn’t his best; I think Glas would admit that.

“But the lack of strikeouts, I think you pull from that more that Toronto has a lot of good hitters. They just don’t strike out. They don’t swing and miss a lot, and they had a lot of good at-bats.”

For Minor, his biggest challenge has been pitching deep into games. He’s gone more than six innings only once in nine starts. In his most recent outing, he gave up four runs on a season-high 10 hits in a no-decision against the Tigers. He left with two on and no outs in the seventh, and those runners scored when Greg Holland gave up a two-out grand slam to Miguel Cabrera later in the inning.

“(Minor) was able to fight his way out of some spots,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said after the game. “Probably not his sharpest stuff, at least as far as his fastball command. He had a really good changeup today and I thought his breaking ball was okay. But it ended up that he let a couple guys get on late that ended up hurting us.”

Matheny also gave credit to Nicky Lopez, who held down shortstop in Mondesi’s absence.

He’s hitting .228 with a career-best OPS of .622. But he’s taking more walks — his 16 this season are two short of his career high — and he’s a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases. He’s played in 45 of the team’s 46 games.

“He’s done a nice job,” Matheny said of Lopez prior to Tuesday’s game. “He’s filled in fantastically at arguably one of the toughest positions on the field. He continues to make a lot of the improvements we were hoping to see.”

–Field Level Media

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