The Miami Marlins will try to build on their best start to a season in nine years when they host the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a three-game series on Monday night.
The Marlins are coming off their first three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics in team history, and their second sweep ofan American League West opponent in the past two weekends after outscoring the Los Angeles Angels 16-7 through three games in Anaheim, Calif.
Going into this season, Miami had not swept an AL West opponent in a series of at least three games since the 2014 season.
That was also the last time the Marlins were at least four games above .500 at the 60-game mark, something they accomplished with their 7-5 come-from-behind win against Oakland on Sunday.
"We're 60 games in with 100-ish games left. I'm happy where we're at," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. "I still think we have a lot of ways to get better on all facets of the game, so I'm not comfortable, I'm never comfortable, especially in June."
Garrett Cooper returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing four games and belted a three-run homer to tie the score in the fifth inning.
"Nice to have him back," Schumaker said of Cooper's return. "Nice to have another bat in the lineup that can change the score with one swing. We missed him. There's no doubt about it."
Schumaker also spoke highly of shortstop Joey Wendle, who went 4-for-8 with four runs in the past two games, and first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who went 6-for-13 in the series against Oakland with several key defensive plays.
"He has saved some games over at first, just by picking the ball," Schumaker said of Gurriel. "Both sides of the ball, he's been really good for us, and one of the big leaders on the team that's helped us get to where we are right now."
Miami plans to start left-hander Braxton Garrett on the mound in the series opener.
Garrett (1-2, 4.22 ERA) does not have a decision in his past four starts, despite holding the opposition to two runs or fewer and pitching at least five innings each time.
On Wednesday, Garrett allowed one run and two hits in 5 1/3 innings against the visiting San Diego Padres, but the Marlins didn't score until they got two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 2-1.
Garrett has never faced Kansas City.
The Royals come to Miami on a high note after blanking the Colorado Rockies 2-0 on Sunday to end a three-game losing streak.
Maikel Garcia belted his first major league home run on Sunday, but the Royals are still searching for offense after producing just nine runs in the past four games.
The Marlins scored 19 in their past two games.
"I'm sure everybody wants to do more," Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. "Nobody likes to lose, and we've lost a lot of games. Guys like to be the leader to help get us out of that."
Right-hander Carlos Hernandez (0-3, 4.76) will serve as the opener for Kansas City on Monday. He has made two starts among his 24 appearances this season.
Hernandez will be making his first appearance against the Marlins.
--Field Level Media