It's hard to say what is more ominous for the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday: the weather forecast that may prevent them from facing the Tampa Bay Rays, or actually facing the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays defeated the Royals 8-5 Monday night, Tampa Bay's 11th win in the last 12 games against the Royals. The Rays run defending Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (2-2, 2.54 ERA) to the mound to face Jakob Junis (2-2, 5.57) of the Royals.
There's a high likelihood of rain Tuesday in the Kansas City area, with the 60-percent chance at game time the lowest percentage predicted all day.
Snell took the loss in the one game the Rays have lost to the Royals in the last dozen contests, a 10-2 trouncing in Tampa April 24. Junis was the beneficiary of the highest run output of the season by the Royals.
The Rays aren't just beating the Royals. They own the best record in baseball at 19-9, including a 10-2 record on the road, also the best in baseball. They certainly showed their mettle Monday, holding the Royals to just five hits.
Still, Royals manager Ned Yost says he hasn't lost confidence in his team.
"No, I don't like the attitude of the team," he said when asked that exact question. "I love the attitude of our team. Our team grinds. Our team plays with energy. Our team fights. I love the way these guys show up every day ready to work. They're all working their tails off.
"We were down four (runs after two innings) and we got a couple of guys on (in the third). Mondi (Adalberto Mondesi) with a triple, then Gordo (Alex Gordon) with a great piece of hitting (on a sacrifice fly). He got a pitch elevated in the zone and drove it to the outfield to make it 4-3."
The Rays don't have a lot of star power, but they welcomed one of their top hitting prospects in first baseman Nate Lowe. He went 1-for-3 with a walk in his major league debut Monday as the designated hitter.
His hitting prowess was well-detailed from spring training and his start at Triple-A Durham.
"(There's) a lot to like," manager Kevin Cash said. "What he did last year was really, really impressive at two different levels. He showed enough in spring training. He can hit the ball a really long way. He's complimented by it because he hits well. He's able to get his hits and drive in runs. We're excited to see him.
"The power's pretty impressive. The confidence is pretty impressive. There were some at-bats in spring training that, you know, he got beat up a little bit. He didn't really waver too much. He took it with a grain of salt. That's a sign of a young player that is confident in his ability and able to make adjustments on the fly, and I'm sure he'll be challenged to do that now while he's up here."
The Rays are down a couple of players, so the timing was right for Lowe's call-up.
"When you lose Austin (Meadows), when you lose Joey (Wendle), those are two big left-handed bats in our lineup. Whether they're hitting first, fourth, or seventh, it doesn't really matter if they're left-handed and they played huge roles. It made the most sense for Nate to get the opportunity now to come up here and try to fill that void a little bit."
--Fiedl Level Media