Can anyone stop the Braves right now?
Baseball's hottest team will head home to face the Royals for two games after sweeping division-rival Washington at Nationals Park over the weekend, running out to the first nine-game winning streak in Atlanta since 2010.
Kansas City will send Jeremy Guthrie to the mound Tuesday night to face Atlanta's Kris Medlen, who's out to extend the Braves' early-season winning streak to 10 games and improve their record to 12-1.
While Major League Baseball will begin celebrating Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, the Royals and Braves will do so Tuesday. Both clubs' players and on-field staff will wear Robinson's No. 42 to honor Robinson's life and contributions to the game. In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.
Nobody has been swinging a hotter bat for the Braves than outfielder Justin Upton, who hit his seventh homer of the year Sunday. But an even more encouraging sign for Atlanta was seeing his brother, center fielder B.J. Upton, break out of his early-season slump with a three-hit game.
Between their lineup's impressive production against Washington's talented pitching staff and their own excellent work on the mound, the Braves were truly firing on all cylinders this weekend. It'll be up to Guthrie and the Royals to slow them down.
Guthrie, who's 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA after two starts, has won seven straight decisions dating back to Aug. 8, 2012, and he's posted a 2.37 ERA over those 13 outings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Guthrie is the first Royal to go undefeated over 13 or more consecutive starts since Kevin Appier did so from 1994-95. Even better for the Royals: They've won 12 of those 13 starts.
Guthrie wasn't at his best in his last outing Tuesday against the Twins, but he overcame three solo homers and less-than-favorable conditions to pitch into the seventh inning and record his second win.
This will be the Royals' second trip to a National League city. They won two of three in their first Interleague series, beating Philadelphia in the second series of the year. Not that you'll hear them complaining publicly about the changing rules and differing styles of play.
"There's nothing that's discombobulating. It's a different aspect that we have to prepare for," Yost said. "We've got our pitchers hitting, it's a different style of play. We played Interleague baseball, we came home and played American League-style baseball, and now we have to go back and play National League-style baseball for two days. But after this little two-game swing, we don't do it again for like a month or six weeks. So it's all built in. Everybody has to do it and go through it."
Royals: Yost excited for homecoming
This short trip will be a return home for Yost, who spent 12 years as a coach for Atlanta under legendary manager Bobby Cox. Yost lives on a farm in La Grange, Ga., and he planned to use the Royals' day off Monday to head home following Sunday afternoon's 3-2 win over Toronto.
"I'll be in the woods at the crack of dawn hunting turkeys," Yost said.
• Kansas City finished its first homestand with a 4-2 record. Last year, the Royals went 0-10 during their first slate of games at Kauffman Stadium.
Braves: Kimbrel not worried about velocity
Craig Kimbrel's last outing yielded the kind of results he's used to -- a perfect ninth inning in the Braves' win over the Nationals on Saturday -- but not the same radar readings. Kimbrel's fastball clocked in between 93-95 mph on Saturday, down from 95-97 mph in the 10th inning of Friday's game.
Kimbrel wasn't worried about the dip in velocity, chalking it up to his two appearances in roughly 16 hours.
"It's just one of those games," Kimbrel said. "It was a day game and a quick turnaround. I was still able to get guys out. ... I feel pretty good that I was able to go out there and throw 93 to 95. I don't have to throw harder than that."
• Jason Heyward went 1-for-4 with a sixth-inning RBI double in Sunday's 9-0 win over the Nationals. The outfielder entered the game with a .086 average and only one hit and one RBI since April 3.
• Atlanta holds the all-time edge against Kansas City with a 4-2 mark, and all six of those games have been played at Turner Field. The last time these clubs met was June 18-20, 2010, when the Braves swept a three-game series.
• Guthrie has only faced Atlanta once, on July 1, 2011, back when he was with the Orioles. Guthrie allowed four runs (three earned) over seven innings and took the loss in a 4-0 game.