By Fred Liggett

The Kansas City Royals wrapped up a seven-game home stand this week with a four-game series against the best team in Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays came to Kansas City to open the series on Monday night with a major league best mark of 19-9. Fresh off a five-game suspension the Royals used opening day starter Brad Keller on Monday to counter the Rays hot bats.

The series and Monday’s game didn’t start off well as Keller and the Royals gave up a run in the first inning to the Rays on Yandy Diaz’s RBI single. The Royals would spring to action in the third inning scoring two runs on Adalberto Mondesi’s RBI triple and another on Alex Gordon’s sacrifice fly. The Royals 4-3 deficit would be as close as they got in what turned out to be an 8-5 loss. The Monday night crowd of 11,744 included 411 dogs on Bark at the Park night at the K.

Both the Royals and Rays took Tuesday night off due to Mother Nature as rain postponed the game to Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday saw the Royals and Rays play a traditional doubleheader starting at 12:15 p.m. The Royals players enjoyed the rare double header as they swept the Rays 3-2 in game one, 8-2 in game two. It was the first time since September 2008 the Royals had swept a traditional doubleheader where the second game starts 45 minutes after the first game’s conclusion. The pair of games saw the Royals enjoy watching success from their rookies. Third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez hit his first major league home run in the opener then in the second game Glenn Sparkman won his first game in the majors.

Thursday’s series finale was a hit with Royals fans due to the game serving as the annual School Day at the K. The game on the field did not see many hits thanks to Royals starter Danny Duffy shutting out the Rays through the first five innings. A 1-0 Royals lead at the time would not last as the Rays came back and won 3-1. The Royals doubleheader sweep on Wednesday allowed them to split the four game series with the Rays. The Royals finished the home stand with a 3-4 mark.

With the seven-game home stand over, the Royals will spend their weekend in Detroit as they challenge their division rival Tigers in a three-game series. Saturday’s game is Star Wars night in Detroit providing the televised game more reasons to watch than normal. The Royals will miss seeing LS West grad Pitcher Matt Hall during the series who is not on the team’s active roster. Hall does remain on the Tigers 40-man major league roster. The Royals take an 11-21 record to the motor city. The Royals road trip continues next week down in Houston against the Astros for three games.