O's game blog: Orioles, Royals begin series in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY - The Orioles begin a three-city, nine-game road trip tonight at Kauffman Stadium against the Kansas City Royals. They will play three games in Kansas City, three in Seattle and end the trip with three in St. Petersburg, Fla., against Tampa Bay.

This series could be billed as a battle for the top 2019 draft pick. It features the two teams with the worst records in the majors in the Orioles (40-94) and the Royals (42-91). The Orioles' record is 2 1/2 games behind the Royals going into this series.

The Orioles took two of three from K.C. in May. They went 4-2 against the Royals last year. But since 2013, the Orioles are 5-10 at Kauffman Stadium.

Cashner-Throws-Black-Sidebar.jpgRight-hander Andrew Casher (4-12, 4.79 ERA) is coming off a start last Saturday at home where he pitched seven innings, allowing nine hits and four runs (three earned) against the New York Yankees. Cashner has gone seven innings four times this year and three have come over his past four starts.

He has three quality starts his past four games and nine over his last 14 since June 1, pitching to an ERA of 4.57. Cashner has 13 quality starts for the year, one behind Alex Cobb for the team lead.

Cashner has struggled at times early in his outings, allowing an ERA of 4.68 in the first inning and 7.66 in the second. In his 12 road starts, he is 2-6 with a 5.14 ERA.

Right-hander Brad Keller (6-5, 3.33 ERA) tonight will make his 37th appearance and 16th as a starter for Kansas City. In December, he was taken by Cincinnati in the Rule 5 draft from the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he had pitched at Double-A last season, and then traded to the Royals.

The 23-year-old Keller entered the rotation on May 30 and in his starts is 5-4 with a 3.69 ERA and .269 average against. He averages 95 mph on his four-seam fastball and he throws that and his two-seamer a combined 70 percent of the time, with a slider in there at 26 percent.

Over his past three starts, Keller is 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA with three walks and 14 strikeouts in 17 innings. He is 4-1 with a 3.64 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star Game. In 18 games, eight starts at home, he is 3-1 with a 3.23 ERA. Keller has never faced the Orioles. But in nine games, including three starts, against American League East teams, he is 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA.

Kansas City has won four of its past five games after a stretch where the Royals lost 17 of 21. The Royals are 22-45 at home, but 11-10 at home since the All-Star break. K.C. starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of their last 13 contests.

The Orioles begin this road trip off their three-game home sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays. Their offense hit .373 in that series, producing 29 runs on 41 hits and going 18-for-38 (.474) with runners in scoring position.

Over the last four games, the Orioles have stolen nine of 10 bases and the team has 14 stolen bases over the past 13 games.

On this date in 1966, Orioles outfielder Frank Robinson celebrated his 31st birthday with a home run and three hits in the O's 5-1 win at Cleveland. Robinson went on to win the Triple Crown and led the Orioles to their first World Series victory.

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