Red-hot Royals set to open series vs. sagging Rays

Thu May 23 6:09pm ET
Field Level Media

Bobby Witt Jr. and the Kansas City Royals aim to continue their torrid ways on Friday when they open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Witt followed up his two-homer, six-RBI performance on Tuesday with a two-run double in Kansas City's 8-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. The 23-year-old is 10-for-24 (.417) with two home runs, 10 RBIs and seven runs during a six-game hitting streak.

Witt's contributions have helped the Royals outscore their foes by a 45-18 margin during their six-game winning streak. They have scored at least eight runs in each of the last four games.

Maikel Garcia is 16-for-44 (.364) with six extra-base hits, eight RBIs and 11 runs during a 10-game hitting streak. He has hit safely in 24 of his last 28 games.

"I couldn't be happier for these guys," Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. "They are putting in the work and their attitudes have been tremendous. ... They deserve to have fun. This is what you play for, it's to win games."

Royals right-hander Seth Lugo (7-1, 1.79 ERA) has done plenty of that this season, as his win total and ERA lead all American League pitchers.

Lugo, who will start Friday's game, won his second straight start and improved to 4-0 in his last five outings with a strong performance on Saturday. He followed up a 12-strikeout performance against the Los Angeles Angels on May 12 by fanning 10 and allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-3 victory versus the Oakland Athletics.

Lugo, 34, won his lone career start against Tampa Bay in 2020 as a member of the New York Mets after yielding two runs (one earned) in 6 1/3 innings.

The Rays have followed a four-game winning streak by losing four in a row. Tampa Bay squandered an early three-run lead and saw its bullpen take it on the chin in an 8-5 setback to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

"They outplayed us in every facet," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We didn't perform."

The Rays' Josh Lowe exited that contest in the second inning with tightness in his right side. He will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury and see if it is related to the oblique strain that sidelined him for the first 5 1/2 weeks of the season.

"Extremely frustrated," Lowe said, per the Tampa Bay Times. "Nothing else to say other than that. I worked my (expletive) off to be here and to get back and then put myself in a situation to play. And to have something happen again is frustrating."

The Rays will use right-hander Shawn Armstrong as an opener Friday with left-hander Tyler Alexander (2-2, 5.17 ERA) expected to pick up a bulk of the innings.

Alexander, 29, took a perfect-game bid into the eighth inning last Friday before being charged with three runs on three hits in 7 1/3 innings in a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

He is 2-2 with a 4.29 ERA in 11 career appearances (one start) against the Royals.

KC LogoKansas City Royals
TB LogoTampa Bay Rays

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