Nothing like the presence of Mike Sweeney to coax the best out of the Royals.
It's a small sampling, to be sure, but the Royals have beaten the Red Sox in the first two games since Sweeney's return from the disabled list. So, he's 3-for-8 with two walks. He has one RBI, a huge one that beat the Red Sox, 5-4, in the ninth inning on Wednesday night.
If the Royals can win Thursday night, they'd pull off the first three-game series sweep of the Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium since 1991. The last Royals sweep was in 1996 at Fenway Park.
They'll have a tough customer to deal with: Curt Schilling, who is 14-4 this season. Against the Royals, his career mark is 3-1 with three saves and a 3.30 ERA.
The Royals will send Runelvys Hernandez to the mound. He's lost his last three starts, giving up a total of 20 earned runs. He's pitched against the Red Sox just once with a no-decision.
KC: RHP Runelvys Hernandez (2-7, 8.54 ERA)
Facing the Twins last Saturday, Hernandez had fine velocity on his fastball according to manager Buddy Bell. Trouble was, he couldn't locate it in the strike zone and walked nine to match a franchise record. He did it in just 4 2/3 innings during which he flung 108 pitches, just 52 of them strikes. Bell vowed to have pitching coach Bob McClure work on Hernandez's mechanics between starts.
BOS: RHP Curt Schilling (14-4, 3.78 ERA)
The mark of a fine pitcher is sometimes made evident by the way he responds to adversity. In this situation, Schilling rebounded from his worst outing of the season (six earned runs over five innings) to hold the Rays to two runs through seven innings and claim his 14th win, tied for best in the Major Leagues. In 24 outings this season, Schilling's allowed more than four runs four times but lost just two of those decisions.
Player to watch
Coco Crisp got Tuesday night off but he'll probably be in there against Hernandez. Crisp is 5-for-12 (.417) with a triple, a home run and a walk against Hernandez.
On the Internet
Official game notes
810 WHB AM
Friday: Royals (TBA) at Indians (RHP Paul Byrd, 7-6, 4.81), 6:05 p.m. CT
Saturday: Royals (LHP Odalis Perez, 4-4, 6.85) at Indians (LHP C.C. Sabathia, 8-8, 3.43), 12:05 p.m. CT
Saturday: Royals (LHP Jorge De La Rosa, 3-3, 8.60) at Indians (TBA), 6:05 p.m. CT
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.