Eager to avoid dropping only their second series in the month of August, the Kansas City Royals will send right-hander Luis Mendoza to the mound on Wednesday afternoon for a matinee game with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Royals should enter the series' decisive meeting with plenty of momentum after Tuesday's thrilling 10th inning victory, in a game where Kansas City pitchers yielded a grand total of two hits to Rays batters. While it may be unwise to foresee a comparable performance to close out the series like the one put forth by Luke Hochevar Tuesday, Kansas City starter Luis Mendoza certainly has the talent to reel off a series of scoreless frames if given the opportunity.
The 28-year-old Mendoza enters Wednesday's finale with pedestrian numbers in both earned-run average (4.26) and walks and hits per inning pitched (1.40), but does own an impressive 18-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last four starts. The Royals have only allowed him to surpass the 100-pitch plateau three times all year, but it's quite evident that the Veracruz, Mexico native is more comfortable than ever with his spot in the rotation locked down at the moment.
Facing off against Mendoza and the Royals on Wednesday afternoon will be Tampa Bay veteran hurler James Shields, who is 11-7 on the season. Shields has bounced back in a huge way after getting shelled for 45 hits over four straight outings from June 28 to July 15, but has yet to face the Royals thus far in 2012.
Be sure to visit Royals Review for more Kansas City baseball coverage, and head over to DRays Bay for more on the Rays. Also visit Baseball Nation for even more news and analysis from around the league.