A late-season run helped the Kansas City Royals finish just below .500 at Kauffman Stadium in 2011.
The Royals have plenty of work to do if they hope to finish anywhere near that mark this season.Kansas City looks to avoid an 11th consecutive loss overall and a winless 10-game homestand Monday night when the Toronto Blue Jays go for their first four-game road sweep since 2003.By winning six of their last eight in Kansas City, the Royals finished 40-41 at home last season -- their best record there since splitting 80 games in 2003. Reaching the break-even point would be a major accomplishment for this year's club after falling to 0-9 at home with Sunday's 5-3 loss.It's the worst home start in franchise history, and the 10 consecutive losses at Kauffman Stadium dating to last season are also the most by the Royals."This is not even a hole," said designated hitter Billy Butler, who is 0 for 10 in the series after opening the homestand with 11 hits in his first 24 at-bats. "We finished 32 games under .500 (in 2009). That's a hole."The Royals (3-12), already 6 1/2 games out of the AL Central lead, last dropped 11 straight during a 12-game skid May 19-30, 2008."We're close to getting to the point of needing to make some changes," manager Ned Yost said. "If we need to make some moves, we will, but we can't continue with this."Yost and the Royals hope Monday's scheduled starter Bruce Chen (0-1, 2.00 ERA) can help them avoid matching the 12-game slide.Opponents are batting just .203 off the veteran left-hander, but Chen's run-support average of 1.50 ranks among the lowest in the majors. He allowed two runs in seven-plus innings of Tuesday's 3-1 home loss to Detroit.Chen is 4-2 with a 3.42 ERA in eight career starts versus Toronto.He'll face a Blue Jays team targeting its first four-game road sweep since May 22-25, 2003, against the New York Yankees.Toronto (9-6), which is also going for its second 6-1 road start in three seasons, will try to extend its season-high winning streak to four with Brandon Morrow (0-1, 4.50) on the hill.The right-hander led the AL last season with 10.19 strikeouts per nine innings, but he has just nine in his first 20 innings of 2012.Another concern is that Morrow has been tagged for six homers after giving up a career high-tying three in Wednesday's 12-2 loss to Tampa Bay."He wasn't able to get away with too many mistakes," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said after Morrow yielded season highs of six runs and eight hits. "First-pitch fastballs found their way back to the middle and were squared up for extra-bases."Morrow went 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in two starts against Kansas City last season.Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer is 3 for 6 with a homer off Morrow, but is batting .171 (6 for 35) on the current homestand.Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, 5 for 12 with a homer and four RBIs during the series, is hitless in three at-bats against Chen.So is two-time defending major league home run champion Jose Bautista, who has gone 32 consecutive at-bats at Kauffman Stadium without a homer.
Brandon Morrow is 0-3 in his career at Kauffman Stadium with a 5.93 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. In 13 2/3 innings in Kansas City, Morrow has given up 13 hits, 4 of which were home runs, and walked 7 batters, while striking out 11.