The Kansas City Royals will go for a three-game sweep against the host Chicago Cubs on Sunday afternoon.
Kansas City won the series opener 6-2 and followed with a 4-2 victory on Saturday. The Royals are looking for their first sweep since July 23-25 against the Detroit Tigers.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez hopes to return to action after sitting out as a late scratch Saturday because of a lingering headache. He hit two home runs Friday but took a foul ball off the top of his helmet in the eighth inning.
“I just love to play baseball,” Perez said. “If I don’t play, I don’t do anything to help my team to win. At least I have the opportunity in the lineup. I like to compete, that’s the way that I am.”
Perez already has a career-high 32 homers to go along with 80 RBIs in 121 games this season. He needs one more RBI to notch another career high, surpassing his total of 80 RBIs also set in 2017 and 2018.
Royals manager Mike Matheny said Perez could hit balls out of the strike zone much like Vladimir Guerrero Sr.
“You make mistakes on the plate, and Vlad would make you pay just like Salvy,” Matheny said. “I think there’s some similarities there.”
The Cubs have lost 14 of 16 games but will try to find a glimmer of hope with veteran right-hander Alec Mills (5-5, 4.19 ERA), who is scheduled to make his 25th appearance and 13th start of the season. Mills is coming off a loss in his last outing Sunday against the Miami Marlins after allowing two runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
In one career start against the Royals, Mills earned the win while tossing seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked three and fanned four.
Mills hopes a strong finish will bolster himself as a candidate for the Cubs’ starting rotation in 2022 and beyond.
“It’s a real comforting feeling knowing you feel like you’ll get a consistent outing every time he takes the mound,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
The Royals will counter with right-hander Carlos Hernandez (3-1, 4.33 ERA). The 24-year-old from Venezuela is scheduled to make his 19th appearance and seventh start of the season.
Hernandez has posted two straight no-decisions after winning his previous two decisions in a row. He gave up four runs on eight hits in six innings during his last time out Monday against the Houston Astros.
This will be Hernandez’s first career appearance against the Cubs.
“Every start in the major leagues is such a hard assignment for these young guys,” Matheny said. “He’s doing a great job of preparation, trying to stay ahead of all he’s got to do. His four-pitch mix is what can help him be less predictable.
“Then it just comes down to execution. The focus for him is just attacking the strike zone. When he does that, his stuff is good enough, no matter who we’re playing against.”
–Field Level Media