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Diamondbacks, Royals clash in search of late-season momentum

Aug 22, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA;  Kansas City Royals designated hitter Ryan O'Hearn (66) celebrates after scoring a run in the dugout during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks won’t make the postseason this year, but there’s plenty of time to build some momentum for 2023.

Kansas City will be trying to win back-to-back games when it hosts the Diamondbacks in the opener of a two-game series on Tuesday night.

The Royals haven’t made the playoffs since winning the World Series in 2015, while Arizona is set to miss the postseason for a fifth straight year.

The Diamondbacks thought they were gaining traction when they won seven of 10 games earlier this month, which included a pair of series wins over the Colorado Rockies and another three victories against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But Arizona’s luck quickly changed.

After winning the last two games of a four-game set with the San Francisco Giants last week, the Diamondbacks came home over the weekend ready to take on the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals but were swept in the three-game series, including a 16-7 beatdown Saturday.

“It’s a frustrating three games,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’d been playing good baseball, but this goes to show you when you don’t execute and play up to my expectations and our standards, it can back up on you in a hurry. That’s what happened over these past few days.”

Lovullo said the Diamondbacks need to use more finesse at times and quit relying strictly on power.

“I think there’s a give and take to this game where you’re not always on throttle to hit a ball into the fourth row or throw a fastball by somebody at 100 mph,” Lovullo said. “There is deception to this game. There is a controlled aggressiveness that you’re going to go out there and execute and win inches.”

The Diamondbacks plan to send right-hander Zach Davies to the mound for the series opener.

Davies (2-4, 3.99 ERA) has not received a decision in his past five starts or eight of his past nine, even though he pitched the required five innings in eight of those outings.

He has made three starts against the Royals in his career and is 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA. Davies faced them on May 23 and recorded a no-decision in a 9-5 win. He allowed five runs (four earned) and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings, his second-shortest outing of the season.

The Royals will counter with right-hander Jonathan Heasley, who was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Sunday and will replace Max Castillo in the rotation.

Heasley (1-7, 5.61) has lost his past three starts, but the Royals scored just five runs combined in those games.

He last appeared in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox in the second game of a doubleheader on Aug. 9, allowing two runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. Heasley only made a pair of mistakes, surrendering two solo homers.

“I felt like I was on the attack from the get-go,” Heasley said. “I made some good pitches. Obviously, really just two mistakes that came back to haunt me. That sucks. But overall, I felt really good about it and felt like I made some good pitches throughout.”

–Field Level Media