There would appear to be no better way for Mike Minor to bounce back from an outing in which he surrendered a season-high three home runs than to face the Royals, who have left the yard the fewest times in the Majors with just 41 homers.
But after Eric Hosmer's game-tying two-run shot in the fifth inning of Tuesday night's series opener, a 4-3 win for the Braves, Minor will need to stay on his guard when he takes the mound for the finale of a quick two-game set on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Braves' left-hander has given up 12 home runs this season, tied for the 10th-most among National League pitchers.
Last Thursday, Mets third baseman David Wright took Minor deep in his first two at-bats, and Andrew Brown delivered a pinch-hit solo shot to tie the game in the fifth before New York scratched out one more run in the seventh to deal the Braves a 4-3 loss in the series finale.
"I just threw more balls over the middle of the plate," Minor said after his third loss of the year. "I didn't have a lot of offspeed, and the offspeed I threw wasn't very good. It was either a curveball or over the middle of the plate. So, I threw a lot of fastballs and felt like I got guys two strikes, but a lot of times they were fouling those balls straight back, so, I wasn't really throwing anything at them to get them off the fastball."
Royals starter Luis Mendoza, who will oppose Minor, is hoping to build off of his last outing, in which Mendoza retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced, but was undone by a three-run sixth inning in a 6-3 loss to the Indians last Wednesday.
"It happened too quick and I couldn't settle down," Mendoza said. "That inning doesn't affect me for my next start. I'm positive that every time I am better and better, and I take that to the mound the next time."
In a more general sense, pitching has been a bright spot for both teams this month. The Braves boast the lowest ERA in the National League at 2.71 through 24 games in June, while the Royals are right behind them at 2.76. The Blue Jays are the only other team with an ERA under 3.00 since the calendar turned.
Braves: J-Up back in lineup
After missing the final two games of the Milwaukee series with what manager Fredi Gonzalez described as a sore right hand, left fielder Justin Upton was back in the lineup for Tuesday night's series opener in Kansas City.
"He felt OK on Sunday," Gonzalez said. "After taking batting practice [on Sunday] he said he felt he could go. But the smart thing was to take another day and take advantage of the off-day on Monday. It was a good [decision] by him."
As the designated hitter on Tuesday, Upton went 1-for-4 with a walk in the Braves' 4-3 win.
• Third baseman Ramiro Pena will get a second opinion on his injured right shoulder in Atlanta on Wednesday. Pena has battled right shoulder discomfort since landing awkwardly while making a diving stop along the third-base line against the Dodgers on June 9.
Royals: Smith called up to help out 'pen
The Royals called up Will Smith on Tuesday to take the place of struggling right-hander Kelvin Herrera in the bullpen. Herrera has given up eight home runs and 15 walks in 27 2/3 innings in the Majors this season.
In seven relief outings for Triple-A Omaha since his move to the bullpen, Smith recorded a 0.84 ERA with one earned run and nine strikeouts to his credit. Ned Yost's bullpen does not have many set roles, but the Royals manager expected Smith to contribute whenever he's called upon.
Smith faced the minimum in a scoreless ninth on Tuesday night, inducing an inning-ending double play after hitting Jason Heyward with a pitch.
• Yost spent 12 years with the Braves as part of Bobby Cox's coaching staff from 1991-2002, serving as the team's bullpen coach from 1991-1998 and third-base coach from 1999-2002.
• Atlanta utility outfielder Jordan Schafer is 9-for-12 on stolen base attempts this season after swiping second base in the third inning of Tuesday's game. The rest of the Braves are 20-for-36.
• The Braves are visiting Kansas City during this week's two-game series for the first time in franchise history.
• Craig Kimbrel recorded his 22nd save of the season as the Braves notched their 12th one-run victory on Tuesday night.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.