The Nationals continue their road trip this weekend with a three game series at the Kansas City Royals, beginning tonight with a 8:10 first pitch. This is the first time the Nats have traveled to Kansas City in their nine years of existence. The two clubs have played just once, in a three game series at Nats Park in 2010.
The Royals have lost five straight games heading into the series, but remain seven games out of the AL Wild Card. This series could, in fact, be the last between the Nats and a team with something to fight for until the second half of September. At 64-62, Kansas City is the only team currently with a winning record the Nats play until they host Atlanta beginning Sept. 16.
Gio Gonzalez (7-6. 3.38) takes the mound for Washington with seven starts against the Royals under his belt. He used to battle them as an American League pitcher and hasn't had a great history. Through 36 1/3 total innings vs. the Royals he holds a 6.44 ERA, 20 walks and seven homers allowed.
Fellow lefty Bruce Chen (5-1, 2.20) will pitch for Kansas City and make his 13th start against the Nationals. Through 12 outings he is 2-2 with a 4.93 ERA with eight home runs given up in 38 1/3 innings. Chen last faced Washington on June 21 in 2010 and went six innings with two runs surrendered.
Denard Span, in particular, has had great success off Chen in his career. Through 21 plate appearances, Span is batting .313 with four walks and two RBI.