Having failed to push across many runs over their recent games, the New York Yankees are hoping a matchup with scuffling Kansas City Royals starter Luke Hochevar will help them get back on track.
The Royals, meanwhile, will try to add to Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes' woes while seeking their first back-to-back wins at home this season Sunday.
New York (14-13) has scored 13 runs during a 2-4 stretch after averaging 5.6 in its first 21 games. The Yankees got their lone run in Saturday's 5-1 loss on Russell Martin's homer, and even hot-hitting Derek Jeter had a rare off night.
The shortstop, batting an AL-best .390 this season and .394 in his last 25 games versus Kansas City, went 0 for 4 and left four runners on base.
"You are going to go through periods," manager Joe Girardi said. "The key to keeping your offense consistent for me is not having a bunch of guys struggle at once. Maybe having one or two and having the other guys picking you up. That hasn't necessarily been true."
Jeter and the Yankees, though, might get their opportunity for a better performance at the plate when they face Hochevar (2-2, 7.36 ERA).
The right-hander matched a pair of career highs Tuesday by allowing nine runs and 12 hits over four innings of a 9-3 loss in Detroit. Hochevar gave up eight runs and 12 hits over six innings during his most recent matchup with the Yankees on Sept. 28, 2009.
"I didn't execute quality pitches. It's about as simple as that," he said.
The Royals (9-17) might look at the chance to face Hughes (1-4, 7.48) as a way to continue their recent success. Alex Gordon had a season-high four hits and Billy Butler drove in three runs Saturday as Kansas City won for the sixth time in nine games.
"We're getting back to playing our style of baseball now," manager Ned Yost said. "We had that little rough patch and we're starting to swing the bats a little better now."
Hughes has given up four or more runs in four straight outings and allowed four over 5 2-3 innings in a 7-1 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday.
Hughes is also dealing with the possibility of being bumped from the rotation with Andy Pettitte expected to be recalled from the minors soon and another lackluster outing wouldn't help his case.
"I try not to think," he said. "There's always pressure to perform. It's always in the back of your mind, but the first thing I have to worry about is me."
Hughes has earned wins in each of his past two starts against Kansas City, allowing three runs in each. He scattered nine hits over six innings during his most recent matchup at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 14, 2010.
Gordon, batting .444 over his last nine games, is 3 for 9 in his career against Hughes. Mike Moustakas, hitting .386 over his last 12 contests, has never faced the right-hander.
Jeter is 0 for 3 against Hochevar, while Robinson Cano is 4 for 8 and Curtis Granderson is 3 for 7.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved