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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, May 19th (All times eastern)

Arizona Diamondbacks (18-22) at Kansas City Royals (15-23), 7:15 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Arizona - Ian Kennedy (3-3, 3.81) Kansas City - Bruce Chen (2-4, 4.34)

(Sports Network) - The Arizona Diamondbacks hope continue the climb towards the top of the NL West standings as they resume a seven-game road trip in game two of a three-game weekend series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

After winning the first game of the series 6-4, Arizona has won three of the first five games during the road trip and is currently third in the NL West behind Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Diamondbacks twice had to battle back in the first game of the series. Miguel Montero put the Diamondbacks ahead for good with a two-run double in the eighth inning that broke a 4-4 tie. Montero also had an RBI double in the first and finished the game 2-for-4 with three runs batted in. Justin Upton had his first multi-hit game since May 5th in the win.

Joe Saunders got the start for Arizona in the game and went six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, but did not factor in the decision. Brad Ziegler earned the win despite blowing a 4-3 lead in the seventh. J.J. Putz pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save of the season.

Luis Mendoza couldn't get out of the sixth inning and allowed four runs but it was Kelvin Herrera who took the loss allowing two runs over 1 1/3 innings of work for Kansas City.

Humberto Quintero had a two-run double in the game and Irving Falu and Johnny Giavotella each had two-hit games in the losing effort for the Royals, who have lost three straight.

Bruce Chen has improved over each of his three starts in May and will look to keep that trend going against Arizona. In his last start against Texas, Chen went 6 2/3 innings and did what most pitchers have not been able to do this season in taming the vaunted Rangers offense. Chen allowed just one run and tied a season high by striking out seven batters in the game.

The start was his best so far this month and featured the fewest runs surrendered by the left-hander to an opponent since he threw six shutout innings on Opening Day against the Angels.

Chen's seasons stats, while not eye popping (2-4, 4.34 ERA), speak to his ability as a reliable starter. He has also been able to eat up innings for the Royals as he has gone at least six frames in six of eight starts so far this season.

This will be Chen's 10th appearance against the Diamondbacks but only his fourth career start against them. In the nine previous appearances Chen has picked up just one win to go with two losses and a 5.24 ERA in 22 1/3 innings pitched.

On the other side of the diamond, Ian Kennedy gets the start for Arizona. Kennedy has had some decent numbers but is still trying to capture what led him to 21 wins a season ago. Kennedy won the first three decisions that he factored in this season but has lost the last three.

On the year Kennedy is 3-3 with a 3.81 ERA, which is far behind the 2.88 ERA he had a season ago when he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting.

Kennedy's last start was a solid effort in which he went six innings and allowed just two runs but still took a loss as the Diamondbacks' bats fell silent in a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers. Poor run support has plagued the right-hander this season. In Kennedy's three losses Arizona has averaged just one run per game.

After spending his first three season in the majors with the New York Yankees, Kennedy has some familiarity with the American League but not a great deal against the Royals. In three career appearances, two of which were starts, Kennedy is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA. Overall Kennedy has not crossed over to the opposite league well with a career 5.76 ERA in interleague play.

Kansas City and Arizona will be meeting in consecutive seasons for the second time in their team's histories. Last season the Diamondbacks swept the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Surprisingly the road team has been the aggressor in this short-lived series with the away team winning eight of the last 10 meetings.

05/19 11:01:13 ET