Meche, Hernandez set to square off

Meche, Hernandez square off

Fans can see two of baseball's top starting pitchers on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Royals ace and $55 million man Gil Meche will face one of the top young pitchers in the game, Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez.

Meche will need to pick a starting rotation that has been unable to last five innings the last two games. Scott Elarton went 4 2/3 innings Wednesday, while Jorge De La Rosa endured his worst start of the season on Thursday night against the Indians.

Meche, though, is the perfect man for the role. The right-hander has eight quality starts in 10 outings this season. He worked a season-low five-plus innings against the Rockies on Saturday, but was dominating in the first five innings before tiring in the sixth.

Meche has a 3.41 ERA at Kauffman Stadium this season.

This will be Meche's second outing against his former team, a team that he pitched for since the Mariners drafted him with the 22nd overall pick in 1996. On April 28, Meche earned the win after working six innings without allowing an earned run against the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Hernandez will make his third start since coming off the disabled list. Several Royals are looking forward to facing "King Felix."

"I have heard he is unbelievable, so it will be good to face him," Royals second baseman Grudzielanek said.

Hernandez has made just one road start this season, but it was one of the best pitched games of the year in the Majors. With an international audience watching, Hernandez outdueled Daisuke Matsuzaka in the phenom's first start at Fenway Park, tossing a one-hit shutout.

Pitching matchup
KC: RHP Gil Meche (3-2, 2.44 ERA)
In his last outing, Meche didn't record a quality start for the first time since April 7, allowing five runs in five innings against the Rockies on Saturday at Coors Field. He only made two bad pitches -- homers to Brad Hawpe and Garrett Atkins -- and still displayed good stuff throughout the outing. It was Meche's shortest outing of the season.

SEA: RHP Felix Hernandez (2-2, 2.77 ERA)
Hernandez seems to have shaken off the rust in his first two outings back from the disabled list. Although he took the loss in his last start -- a 2-1 setback against San Diego -- Hernandez showed glimpses of his old self, allowing two runs in five innings while striking out nine. Hernandez has not earned a win since April 11, a 3-0 complete game, one-hitter against Boston.

Player to watch
The Royals are a combined .115 (3-for-26) against Hernandez lifetime, but left fielder Emil Brown is 1-for-3. Brown has been one of the Royals' best hitters in May, batting .273 after hitting .186 in April.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• RSTN

On radio
• WHB

Up next
• Saturday: Mariners (RHP Cha Seung Baek, 1-2, 5.50) at Royals (RHP Brian Bannister, 0-2, 4.39), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Mariners (LHP Jarrod Washburn, 4-4, 3.15) at Royals (LHP Odalis Perez, 2-4, 5.20), 1:10 p.m. CT
• Monday: Orioles (RHP Steve Trachsel, 3-3, 3.77) at Royals (RHP Scott Elarton, 1-0, 6.00), 6:10 p.m. CT

Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.