The wins have been tight ones -- all one-run victories -- and have come against a pair of 2011 playoff teams from the National League Central in Milwaukee and St. Louis. Even the lone loss in the last five contests was an exciting one, as the Royals erased a 6-1 second-inning deficit to take a 7-6 lead in the seventh, before the Cardinals rallied for a 10-7 win on Saturday afternoon.
Aside from Saturday's rough showing by lefty Bruce Chen, the Royals' 4-1 stretch has been spurred by tremendous starting pitching performances. Sunday's starter, Luis Mendoza, has been no exception. Mendoza kicked off this stretch of better baseball by silencing the Brewers' bats on Tuesday. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and despite a no-decision, the righty held Milwaukee to one run on one hit and two walks.
On the season, Mendoza's numbers are less impressive. He's been in and out of the starting rotation, and in 11 games this year, Mendoza is 2-3 with a 4.89 ERA.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who is coming off back-to-back solid performances, will oppose Mendoza. But the last one didn't go well for the Redbirds. Wainwright was great, surrendering just two runs on five hits through seven innings. St. Louis mustered just one run in the game, though, and Wainwright took the loss.
Royals: Gordon likes leading off
Outfielder Alex Gordon was permanently returned to the leadoff spot on May 27, and he's hit the ball well ever since. In his last 17 games since reassuming the No. 1 spot, Gordon is batting .338 with nine doubles, 10 walks and 13 runs scored. Entering play Saturday, Gordon had a .416 on-base percentage and was slugging .500.
Pitcher Vin Mazzaro picked up a hit in Friday's game against the Cardinals, giving him two on the season. His pair of hits matches the franchise record for hits in a season by a Royals pitcher since the DH was instituted in 1973. He joins former Royals pitchers Zack Greinke, Jeff Suppan and Jeremy Affeldt atop the club ranks.
Cardinals: Freese on fire
Third baseman David Freese enters Sunday's series finale with a six-game hitting streak after a pair of hits in Saturday's win over the Royals. Freese has been scorching during the stretch -- batting .417 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs.
With his 300th career stolen base in Friday's game against the Royals, Carlos Beltran became the eighth player in Major League history and the first switch-hitter to amass 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases.
Wainwright is 2-1 against the Royals in six career games, including three starts. He has struck out 14 batters and walked just four in 25 2/3 innings. For the most part, the right-hander's silenced the current Royals in his career, but outfielder Jeff Francoeur has tormented the St. Louis ace. Francoeur has picked up four hits in 16 at-bats, with a home run and three RBIs, as well as three walks.
Closer Jonathan Broxton picked up his 100th career save in Friday's 3-2 win over the Cardinals.