video thumbnail

ATL@STL: Miller fans seven en route to Cardinals' win

Perhaps there will be a trifle less turmoil and no marathon weather delays during the Royals' visit to St. Louis this year.

Just over a year ago, on May 30, 2013, the Royals were at Busch Stadium when they dismissed their two hitting coaches and brought in George Brett and Pedro Grifol to take their places. That came after a series-opening 5-3 loss to the Cardinals, the Royals' eighth in a row.

That night, the game started an hour late because of rain and the Royals were in the midst of a ninth-inning rally when the heavens opened up again. That delay lasted 4 hours, 32 minutes -- and play resumed at 3:04 a.m. CT. Ten minutes later, in a damp and deserted stadium, the Royals finished off a 4-2 victory.

This year, Kansas City has already changed hitting coaches, getting that done in Toronto, as it begins a four-game home-and-home series against its I-70 rivals on Monday, with the first two games at Busch Stadium before shifting to Kauffman Stadium for the final two.

Kansas City's Danny Duffy and Shelby Miller are the starters for Monday's opener.

The left-handed Duffy is absolutely sure that he's past what manager Ned Yost termed a "dead arm" in his last start, which lasted only four-plus innings and resulted in a 9-3 loss to the Astros.

"My velocity dipped pretty drastically compared to the prior start, but I think it's just something that all pitchers go through every now and then," Duffy said. "The good ones pitch through it and get outs anyway, and I didn't. So depending on what I've got in the tank on Monday, I'm going to make better pitches. I can get outs no matter what and there are no excuses for giving it up like I did."

Duffy will also have to swing a bat, which he did for the first time as a Major Leaguer at Busch Stadium in 2011. How's his hitting?

"It's not great, it's not terrible. I got in [for some BP] against Bruce [Chen] the other day and laid down a couple of bunts, but it's not easy. I'll just go in there and try to do whatever the situation basically calls for," Duffy said.

Duffy recalled batting against Jaime Garcia in 2011.

"I wore it big-time, hitting-wise," Duffy said. "It was my first big league at-bat. I struck out twice bunting, I think. I'm a little more mature now and a little more aware."

Duffy is 0-for-3 in his big league hitting career.

Miller's rough sophomore season continued last Wednesday when he allowed a season-high seven runs to the Yankees in a 7-4 loss.

"I really don't have a good explanation for it. I don't think he does either," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's just one of those nights where everything seemed to be right where they were putting the bat. Not a great explanation."

Miller's ERA sunk to 3.94 after the start, compared to the 3.01 figure he posted in his first full season in the Majors.

Royals: Dilemma at DH
Manager Ned Yost will have his usual National League field dilemma: Whether to use Billy Butler at first base instead of Eric Hosmer or put his designated hitter on the bench. Butler bats right-handed, Hosmer is a lefty.

The Cardinals start Miller, a righty, on Monday night and lefty Jaime Garcia is slated to go on Tuesday night. This leaves open the possibility that Hosmer would start Game 1 and Butler in Game 2 at first. Yost has not announced his intentions.

Cardinals: Carpenter streaking
Matt Carpenter enters the I-70 series riding a 14-game hitting streak, after a rough start to the season.

On May 13, Carpenter's on-base plus slugging percentage dipped to .673.

After going 0-for-3 against the Braves on May 17, Carpenter's hit safely in every game, going 2-for-3 in Sunday's 8-0 loss. He entered Sunday's game hitting .353/.413/.485 in his last 13 games.

"When he gets on base, we typically see good things happen for us," Matheny said. "It's nice when him and Kolten [Wong] both are putting up those type of at-bats and getting on base. It just gives an opportunity for run producers to produce. They've done a nice job."

Worth Noting
• The Royals lead the AL in steals with 48. They'll face a worthy adversary in Yadier Molina behind the plate, as the Cardinals catcher has thrown out an MLB-best 48.1 percent of would-be basestealers.

• Nori Aoki is the only Kansas City player to have faced Miller in his career. He's 7-for-14 with a home run. Comments