The Washington Nationals will be starting a big three game series at the Kansas City Royals tonight. This is the Nats first trip to Kaufman Stadium since baseball returned to the nation’s capital in 2005.
Both teams are holding onto faint playoff hopes coming into this weekend. The Royals have fallen into a backslide recently after storming out of the All-Star break at 19-5 to get themselves back in playoff contention. They have lost five straight games and eight of their last 10 to fall seven games back in the AL Wildcard race.
The cause of the Royals recent slide is something Nats fans are familiar with, a lack of offense. In their last nine games the Royals have hit .118 (9-for-76) with runners in scoring position.
The Nationals have averaged 2.3 runs and batted .176 in interleague road games this season, but are averaging 5.2 runs and hitting .288 as a team while winning nine of their last 13 games overall.
This series will have some good pitching matchups starting with Gio Gonzalez (7-6, 3.38 ERA) vs Bruce Chen (5-1, 2.20 ERA) getting things started. Jordan Zimmermann (14-7, 3.37 ERA) vs Wade Davis (6-9, 5.43 ERA) on Saturday, and Dan Haren (8-11, 4.64 ERA) vs Ervin Santana (8-7, 3.13 ERA) will close things out on Sunday.
Gonzalez is 3-3 with a 6.44 ERA in seven career starts against the Royals, but hasn’t faced them since 2011 while pitching for the Oakland A’s. He’s coming off a strong outing in Atlanta last Saturday, in which he went seven innings, gave up two runs on five hits while fanning nine, but took a tough-luck loss.