Royals-Blue Jays Preview
One week ago, it looked like the Kansas City Royals were on their way to finishing August in disastrous fashion.
As they get set to play their final game of the month, a solid stretch has kept them from completely falling out of the wild-card race.
Kansas City looks to end August with its sixth win in seven games as it continues a three-game road series against the last-place Toronto Blue Jays.
The Royals (69-65) entered August on an eight-game win streak and got off to a solid start to the month with nine wins in 12 games. However, they went on to drop 10 of 12, including a 7-2 loss to Washington last Saturday for their seventh straight defeat.
Kansas City turned things around with a 6-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday, and won its next four before losing 3-2 in Friday night's opener.
The Royals had a chance to tie it in the ninth inning, putting runners on first and second with one out. Pinch-hitter George Kottaras then lined out to center and Alex Gordon grounded out, with second baseman Ryan Goins diving for the ball and throwing from his knees.
"This one's not overly frustrating," manager Ned Yost said. "You don't ever want to lose at this time of year, but it was a good game. We fought to the end, it just didn't happen."
Jeremy Guthrie (13-10, 4.19 ERA) takes the mound for Kansas City as he tries to get back on track. The right-hander pitched a four-hitter in a 13-0 victory over Minnesota on Aug. 5, winning his fourth straight start, but things have come unraveled over his last four performances.
He lost three straight starts while posting a 6.63 ERA before pitching five shaky innings in an 11-1 win over Tampa Bay in a makeup game Monday. Guthrie allowed one run over five innings but gave up six hits and walked three, limiting the damage with a pair of key strikeouts to end the third and fourth innings.
"We had a couple of tough situations, and I was really pleased to get out of them," Guthrie told the Royals' official website. "I don't think I pitched great today, but it's almost like we won in spite of me."
Guthrie is 3-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 19 starts against the Blue Jays, last facing them Sept. 9, 2011, when he allowed three hits in seven innings of a 2-0 win in Toronto while with Baltimore.
He'll be opposed by R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.39), who won for the first time in four starts his last time out. The right-hander allowed two runs over 6 1-3 innings to beat the New York Yankees 5-2 on Monday.
Dickey entered that matchup with a 5.79 ERA at home, and he was 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in his previous four starts at Rogers Centre.
"I have to do it in the right place in this park," he told the Blue Jays' official website. "I threw some good (knuckleballs) when I wanted to throw some good ones. ... If I'm able to go up and down and that middle one is far and few between, then it's going to be a decent night out."
Dickey had a decent performance in Kansas City on April 13, allowing one run over 6 1-3 innings to win 3-2 in his first start against the Royals since 2004.
Toronto (61-74) has won four of five following a seven-game skid.