Major League Baseball
Preview
Kansas City at Houston
When: 8:10 PM ET, Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas

With its starting rotation in excellent form, Kansas City hopes the bullpen and bats continue to follow suit as the Royals try to make it two straight when they visit the Houston Astros on Wednesday in the second contest of a three-game series. Kansas City is last in the major leagues with 36 runs and has hit only two homers, but its starters have nine quality starts in the first 12 games this season after Yordano Ventura recorded his first major league victory in Tuesday's 4-2 win. The bullpen contributed two perfect innings to lower its ERA to 4.77 - the starters are at 2.58 - while the Royals posted their first road win in six tries this season.

The Astros lost for the ninth time in 12 games since taking two from the New York Yankees to start the season, and appear headed for their fourth consecutive 100-loss season. Houston also is struggling at the plate, scoring 40 runs while hitting a major league-worst .185. Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie is 6-0 with a 2.94 ERA in his last eight April starts as he continues his turnaround since joining the Royals and will oppose Dallas Keuchel, who is coming off his first victory of the season.

TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, FSN (Kansas City), CSN (Houston)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.55 ERA) vs. Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 3.75)

Guthrie retired the last 12 batters he faced after allowing one run and four hits in the first three innings of a 7-3 victory over Tampa Bay on April 9. The 35-year-old Roseburg, Ore., native is 22-15 since coming to Kansas City in 2012 after going 50-74 in five seasons with Baltimore and part of one in Colorado. Guthrie is 2-1 with a 5.00 ERA in four starts against Houston while getting rocked for six runs and eight hits in a 6-5 loss to Keuchel and the Astros on May 20 in his last outing against them.

Keuchel allowed a run and five hits in seven innings of Houston's 6-4 victory at Toronto on Friday for his second victory in his last 12 starts. The 26-year-old Tulsa, Okla., native was 6-10 with a 5.15 ERA in his first full season in 2013 and the Astros hope he emerges as a building block for the future in the rotation. Keuchel earned the victory in his only career start against the Royals despite allowing four runs, nine hits and four walks while striking out six in 6 2/3 innings.

WALK-OFFS

1. Guthrie won a career-high 15 games in a career-best 211 2/3 innings in 2013.

2. Houston C Jason Castro (sore toe) served as the designated hitter Tuesday and went 1-for-4 to raise his average to .179.

3. Kansas City CF Lorenzo Cain is 5-for-10 in his last three games - 2-for-4 with a double and run scored Tuesday - and is batting .342.

PREDICTION: Royals 3, Astros 2

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Kansas City 5-7 W1 4-2 1-5 2-1 2-6 1-0 0-0
Houston 5-9 L2 3-5 2-4 3-3 0-1 2-5 0-0
Last Meeting
Kansas City Houston
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
4/15/14 KC 4 HOU 2 .212 1 .664 .129 1 .464
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Kansas City E. Hosmer .667 2 1.750
Houston J. Castro .250 1 .500
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Kansas City O. Infante 1 2 2
Houston C. Corporan 1 1 1
Pitching ERA Avg K
Kansas City 1.00 .212 12
Houston 4.00 .129 7
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Kansas City L. Cain .342 13 .770
Houston J. Altuve .269 14 .685
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Kansas City A. Gordon 1 5 9
Houston J. Villar 2 5 5
Pitching ERA Avg K
Kansas City 3.17 .237 90
Houston 4.33 .185 103