Royals shoot for split against Orioles

Sports

Carlos Hernandez continues to impress on the mound for the Kansas City Royals.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles’ John Means is still trudging through a rather frustrating season that began promisingly.

Hernandez looks to help the visiting Royals earn a split of their four-game set against Means and the Orioles on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hernandez (5-1, 3.57 ERA) has been one of the majors’ late-season surprises in 2020. He joined the Royals’ rotation in mid-July and is 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA in his past six starts.

In two road starts this season, Hernandez is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, having beaten the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs last month.

Hernandez’s latest outing was Friday at home against the White Sox, and he allowed five hits and walked three but yielded just two runs over six innings en route to a 7-2 victory.

“(Hernandez) just continues to take steps forward, little things he’s doing,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “You’re seeing that he’s repeating better all the time. … He’s getting better.”

Seemingly much better than his first start of 2021, which came against Baltimore on July 18. Hernandez allowed two runs, three hits and two walks while striking out six over four innings during the Royals’ 5-0 home defeat.

On Thursday, he will try to help the Royals (62-77) avoid a third consecutive defeat after they blew a 5-0 lead and allowed Baltimore (45-93) to score nine runs in the eighth inning of a 9-8 decision Wednesday.

The defeat overshadowed Salvador Perez’s 42nd home run. Perez ranks second in the majors in homers and first in RBIs (104).

Kansas City’s Andrew Benintendi clubbed a three-run homer for one of his three hits, and he finished the night with five RBIs. He is 2-for-4 with a double in his career against Means (5-6, 3.47 ERA).

The left-hander went 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA, including a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners, over his first eight starts of 2021. In 13 starts and a 1 1/2-month injury-list stint since, Means is 1-6 with a 5.21 ERA. The Orioles have lost each of Means’ past six starts, with Baltimore scoring a total of 17 runs in those contests.

That said, Means has allowed two runs in each of his past two outings. Most recently against the host New York Yankees on Friday, he threw five innings and gave up two runs on three hits in Baltimore’s 4-3, 11-inning loss.

Means is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA against the Royals in two career starts, both in 2019.

Baltimore got three hits and two RBIs from ex-Royal Kelvin Gutierrez and two hits from rookie center fielder Ryan McKenna on Wednesday. Austin Hays extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games, during which he is batting .357 (20-for-56) with five doubles, 11 runs and 13 RBIs.

“We’re giving guys, like we have for a few years now, an opportunity to see if they can solidify themselves and be a big-league player,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

Baltimore is 4-2 against the Royals this season.

–Field Level Media

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