O's game blog: The Kansas City series opener at Kauffman Stadium

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles have played 16 of their last 19 games against teams with current losing records – going 13-3 in those games – and that stretch will continue tonight at Kauffman Stadium.

The Kansas City Royals (7-22) host the Orioles tonight to start a three-game series. After winning 15 of 19 since April 10 against mostly losing-record clubs, outside of the Red Sox, the Orioles face a struggling K.C. team tonight, one that has lost nine in a row at home. In fact, Kansas City is just 1-12 at home this year. They are going to start beating someone soon, and the Orioles just hope that all starts after they leave town Thursday.

But the Royals have really struggled and have a minus-64 run differential, the third-worst currently in the American League. Baltimore's run differential of plus 25 is fifth-best in the AL.

The Royals have lost four of the last five and 13 of 16 games. They just completed a 3-7 road trip to the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona and Minnesota. They are 1-8 in series play, 0-4 at home.

Kansas City went 65-97 last season and Matt Quatraro was named their new manager on Oct. 30. He was a coach for the last five years for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Orioles (19-9) got Monday off after their 5-3 win Sunday at Detroit. They took three of four in that series. The Orioles have now won six straight series for the first time since July 21-Aug. 13, 2014. They finished their season series with the Tigers, going 6-1.

The Orioles also continue to excel in the close games. They are 10-4 in games decided by two runs or fewer.

Overall, they have won four of five, 11 of 13 and 15 of the last 19 games. 

Right-hander Tyler Wells (1-1, 2.79 ERA) pitches the series opener for the Orioles, and the club is 3-1 in his four starts and 4-1 in his five games this year. In 29 innings, Wells has allowed just 18 hits with three walks and 23 strikeouts.

Wells ranks first in the big leagues with 0.724 WHIP, and he ranks 12th in the AL in ERA among qualified pitchers.

Lefty batters have hit just .178 off him with a .511 OPS. Right-handed hitters have batted .175/.515. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer three times and has thrown six innings or more twice in his four starts. He threw a career-most 102 pitches in his last outing.

In his past two games – versus Detroit and Boston – he allowed two runs and seven hits over 12 2/3 innings for a 1.42 ERA and .167 batting average against.

Lefty Ryan Yarbrough (0-3, 6.35 ERA) gets the start for Kansas City. Formerly with Tampa Bay, he signed a one-year free agent deal in December for a reported $3 million that includes $1 million in incentives.

He has made eight appearances but just one start, and that was his last game. On Wednesday at Arizona he allowed four hits and one run in four innings on 77 pitches.

In 2022 for Tampa Bay against the Orioles, he went 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA. In 16 career games with nine starts against Baltimore, he is 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.158 WHIP.

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