It's been so far, so good for the Orioles as they make their way through a difficult portion of their schedule. The O's will look to keep it going on Tuesday night, when they kick off their brief stop at Camden Yards in the opener of a three-game set against the Royals.
Baltimore is coming off an 11-game West Coast trip that saw the club go 7-4 against the A's, Mariners and Angels. After Monday's off-day, the Orioles host the Royals, hop to Minnesota for three, then return home again.
"We're going to have to do it again and again. No one says, 'This means that's going to happen,'" Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You have heard me say that a bunch of times, but I believe it. You turn to another challenge. Usually your challenge after a long road trip is the first couple days at home."
On top of all that, Kansas City comes to town riding high. Prior to Monday's 2-1, 11-inning loss to the White Sox, the Royals had won four straight. They've won seven of their last 10 entering Tuesday's series opener.
Ervin Santana (3-1, 2.00 ERA) will get the start for the Royals, as he takes his second shot at his 100th career win. His first came last Thursday, when he tossed four scoreless innings against the Rays, only to have rain wipe away any official record of the performance.
Santana hasn't given up a run in his last 17 innings, although his last four won't count toward his official stats. In his previous outing, the right-hander struck out 12 against the Indians.
"He was throwing his offspeed [pitches] for strikes," Indians first baseman Mark Reynolds said after that game. "We had pitches to hit, we just didn't do it. I think a lot of guys were frustrated in the dugout."
The Orioles will counter with Wei-Yin Chen (2-3, 3.50 ERA), who will be making only his second home start of the season, out of seven total.
The lefty is coming off two polar-opposite starts. Chen held the A's to two hits over eight shutout innings on April 26, then surrendered five runs in four innings on Wednesday at Seattle. Baltimore's defense didn't make an official error, but it had a couple of costly misplays.
"From outstanding to the worst tonight," Chen said afterward through his interpreter. "I tried to attack the zone today. I tried to throw first-pitch strikes. But I tried to think too much, I tried to attack both sides of the plate, and it didn't work at all."
Royals: Holland falters in ninth
Royals closer Greg Holland appeared to have returned to form over a nine-game stretch, with six saves and a 0.00 ERA entering Monday. But he let a 1-0 lead slip away against the White Sox, allowing a run on four hits and a walk and taking a win away from starter James Shields, who threw eight scoreless innings with nine strikeouts.
Holland went through some similar struggles early on this season, particularly April 6-7 in Philadelphia, when he allowed four runs over two appearances. He attributed that skid to falling behind in counts and having to throw more fastballs, but he had bounced back well prior to Monday's rough outing.
"I never really felt like I got off track. I really just was trying to be too fine early in counts my first couple of outings, and I was putting guys on because of it," Holland said. "When you put guys on, one hit can cost you the game. But if you go out there and make people beat you with three or four swings, you're going to be successful nine times out of 10."
Orioles: Machado keeps it going
Third baseman Manny Machado saw his 11-game hitting streak end on Friday, but he came right back by hitting safely in his next two contests. The 20-year-old smacked a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning of Sunday's win over the Angels.
In his past 13 games, Machado is batting .386 with seven doubles, a triple, three homers and 10 RBIs.
• First baseman Chris Davis missed Saturday's game with tendinosis in the patellar tendon of his right knee, but he was back in the lineup on Sunday and went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
• Starting with this series, the Royals will play 12 of their next 15 games on the road.
• The Orioles went 5-4 against the Royals last season, including 4-3 at home.
• Santana owns a 6.69 ERA in six career starts at Camden Yards. Chen gave up nine runs in 10 2/3 innings over two outings against the Royals as a rookie last season.
• Royals designated hitter Billy Butler has notched a cycle over two games against Chen, going 5-for-6 with a double, a triple, two home runs and four RBIs.