Dinged-up Royals hope to back Greinke
Kansas City (31-42) at Pittsburgh (35-39), 12:35 p.m. CT
PITTSBURGH -- It may have been a pleasant 80 degrees for Saturday's first pitch, but David DeJesus is all about weathering the storm -- the injury storm.
"Until the guys get back, we've got to do that," DeJesus said. "We just got to keep working. That's all we can do, there's no reason to be negative right now. We just got to keep staying positive."Usual starters Mike Aviles, John Buck, Coco Crisp and Alex Gordon and are all hurt, with Crisp out for the season with a right rotator cuff strain. Kansas City has struggled offensively, especially on the road in Interleague Play. It looks to break out of the slump in their last game against the National League this season when the Royals play the Pirates Sunday at PNC Park. With Saturday's loss, the Royals clinched a losing record against NL foes this season, the first time that's happened since 2004, when they went 6-12. The Royals have scored 18 runs in eight road games against the National League. They also haven't won a game in which they've surrendered more than four runs since beating the Indians, 6-5, on May 19, going 0-21 in such situations since then. "It's been challenging, but you still got to make due with what you got," manager Trey Hillman said. "We just got to be patient, unload at the right pitches and hopefully square the ball up with some runners on base." The offensive support has also been muted for pitcher Zack Greinke, who leads the Major Leagues with a 1.90 ERA. In the right-hander's last five starts, the Royals have scored just 17 runs. That number shrinks to 10 when constricted to when Greinke is still in the game. Hillman was adamant about the offense not pressing for any specific pitcher. Willie Bloomquist agreed. "It's not intentional, that's for sure," Bloomquist said with a laugh. "We like to score runs for everybody, but it's just one of those things in baseball that happens sometimes. Hopefully we can get him some runs and continue getting him wins." Bloomquist doesn't think a lack of familiarity NL pitchers has much to do with the slump. Instead, the newness at the plate and on the mound makes it both an advantage and disadvantage for each side. Instead, he sees the bigger obstacle being the lineup having to adjust to life in the Senior Circuit. "In the grand scheme of things, an American League lineup is geared for American League baseball, and so when you come to the National League, it's an adjustment, of course," Bloomquist said. "Guys that are normally in there aren't in there or you're having a guy out of position here and there just to get him in the lineup." Pitching matchup
KC: RHP Zack Greinke (9-3, 1.90 ERA)
For the first time in five starts, Greinke notched a victory, and it came as he went eight innings to beat the Astros, 2-1. Looking more like the pitcher who started out with an 8-1 record this season, Greinke allowed only a first-inning run, pitched out of a few jams, struck out five and walked none. One thing that seemed to help was resuming his inside attack; he said he worked inside to every batter and only two of those pitches resulted in base hits. Greinke was used as the No. 8 hitter at Houston (he went 0-for-3) and he gets another chance to swing at Pittsburgh. He's 3-for-15 in his career. PIT: RHP Charlie Morton (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
Originally scheduled to pitch on Friday, Morton was pushed back to Sunday in order to give his nagging left hamstring a few extra days to recover. Morton has already missed a start due to the injury and was limited to just one inning in one of the two starts he has made since joining the Pirates. Morton threw 88 pitches in five innings his last time out, showing a nasty sinking fastball in the process. Morton has never faced the Royals, but he is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two career Interleague starts. Crown points
Greinke hasn't notched a win in consecutive starts since his 6-0 run from April 8-May 4. ... Kansas City signed lefty Brian Peacock on Friday night, the team's 31st-round pick in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft. ... Playing for the Surprise Royals in a rehab assignment, Gordon (right hip) went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run on Friday night. Tickets
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Monday: Royals (Luke Hochevar, 2-3, 5.87) vs. Twins (Nick Blackburn, 6-3, 3.11), 7:10 p.m. CT
Tuesday: Royals (Brian Bannister, 5-5, 4.17) vs. Twins (Scott Baker, 5-6, 5.17), 7:10 p.m. CT
Wednesday: Royals (Gil Meche, 4-7, 4.27) vs. Twins (TBD), 1:10 p.m. CT
Wayne Staats is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.