Thursday, April 14, 2016

Kennedy seeks a KC series win in Houston

The Royals and Astros wrap up a four-game set with a 7:10 p.m. CT Thursday finale at Minute Maid Park. After Houston won the opener, Kansas City took the next two and will be looking for a series win.
Right-hander Ian Kennedy takes the mound for the Royals after a brilliant first start with his new team -- 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Twins on Saturday.
Right-hander Doug Fister, who won his debut with the Astros with five solid innings in Milwaukee on Saturday, makes his first home start at Minute Maid Park.
Things you should know about this game
• Royals manager Ned Yost has been trying to find some built-in rest for catcher Salvador Perez, and Thursday might be an opportunity. Perez is just a career .250 hitter (6-for-24) against Fister with no home runs, but Yost also has indicated he wants Kennedy to establish a relationship with Perez early in the season.
• Some Royals have had terrific success against Fister: Alcides Escobar is .303 career against him with a homer, Eric Hosmer is .348 with a homer and Mike Moustakas is .360 with a homer. Conversely, this group of Astros has not fared well over its career (.195) against Kennedy.
• Astros starting pitchers have posted a 5.63 ERA this season (entering Wednesday) while averaging just five innings per start. Houston's starting pitchers have completed six full innings just three times in the club's first eight games.
• Houston's bullpen has thrown 28 of the team's 68 total innings this season (41.2 percent). It may be early, but that's the third-highest bullpen total in the American League (A's, Orioles).
• Dating back to the beginning of the 2015 season, the Astros are 54-29 (.651) at Minute Maid Park during the regular season, compared to 35-52 (.402) on the road.

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