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Kansas City Royals left with decisions to make versus Chicago Cubs

By
The Sports Xchange
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jose Quintana delivers a pitch to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning on July 28, 2018 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jose Quintana delivers a pitch to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning on July 28, 2018 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Manager Ned Yost is coming up with some unique Kansas City Royals lineups as the club is facing a stretch of a plethora of left-handed pitchers.

The Cubs are starting all lefties in this three-game series with Jose Quintana starting Wednesday night. The Royals are countering with rookie right-hander Heath Fillmyer.

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The Royals have lost their last nine games when the opponent has started a left-hander. Their last victory in such a game was June 27 at Milwaukee, when they beat Brent Suter, 5-4.

"Have you looked at our record?" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We've lost to a lot of people."

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The Royals are 34-79 after a 5-0 loss Tuesday night to the Chicago Cubs, who started left-hander Mike Montgomery.

With the Royals facing four straight southpaws, Yost has been creative with his lineup. He started backup catcher Drew Butera at first base for the second day in a row, his first starts this season at first base. Butera has played only 19 games at first base in his eight-plus years in the majors.

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Alcides Escobar started at third base for the fifth time in his career. He had never played third before this season.

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"See, the problem I run into is I've got [Ryan] O'Hearn and [Brett] Phillips [both left-handed hitters] and I've got [Jorge] Bonifacio and [Hunter] Dozier [both right-handed hitters]," Yost said. "We play the majority against right-handed pitchers, which opens up more playing opportunities for O'Hearn and Phillips.

"Now, we're playing four lefties in a row. So, why would I want to play a lefty and take playing time away from my righties. It's a balancing attack, so you've got to balance it the most you can."

Also, veteran left-handed first baseman Lucas Duda has been held out of the lineup the first two games.

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Royals catcher Salvador Perez is a career .302 hitter in 63 at-bats against Quintana with two home runs. Escobar is hitting .273 in 66 at-bats versus Quintana while Alex Gordon is hitting .288 in 52 at-bats with two home runs. No other Kansas City hitter has more than 12 at-bats against Quintana.

Quintana is 10-7 with a 4.12 ERA in 21 starts this season. He has picked up a victory in four of his last five outings and the Cubs are 5-1 in his past six turns.

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Quintana is 3-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 24 career starts against the Royals. He is 2-2 with a 4.10 ERA in a dozen starts at Kauffman Stadium.

Fillmyer, who the Royals promoted June 15 from Triple-A Omaha, will be making his fifth start and ninth appearance. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA. He was removed after three innings and a 31-minute delay Friday in a no-decision at Minnesota in his last start.

Fillmyer is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in three appearances (two starts) at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals lost their sixth straight Tuesday. After winning 13 games in May, the club is 14-43 since. They are 15-39 at Kauffman Stadium, one more home loss than they had in the 2017 season.

The Cubs won their first series since July 19-22. They are 11-9 since the All-Star break. The Cubs' pitching staff registered its 12th shutout, matching Pittsburgh and Cleveland for the most in the majors.

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