|5:05 PM PT6:05 PM MT7:05 PM CT8:05 PM ET20:05 ET0:05 GMT8:05 5:05 PM MST7:05 PM EST7:35 PM VEN4:05 UAE (+1)7:05 PM CT, August 23, 2014
Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas Attendance: 27,400
Kansas City Royals at Texas Rangers
- The Rangers have gone 46-26 against Kansas City since 2005, tied for the best record by any AL team against the Royals (Yankees). This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. At game 127, this is the deepest into a season the Rangers have ever played their first game against an AL opponent.
- Kansas City is 22-6 in its last 28 games, the Royals' best 28-game span since 1991. The Royals have a 1.5-game lead in the division this late in the season for the first time since 1985, the last time Kansas City made the playoffs (and won the World Series).
- Texas has won just two home series since April. The Rangers went 9-3 in their first 12 home games, but have gone just 14-35 since. That 14-35 mark is the worst in any 49-game home span since the Rangers moved to Texas in 1972.
- Yordano Ventura has tossed five straight quality starts, the longest streak by a Kansas City rookie since Kevin Appier's eight straight in 1990. Ventura had just one quality start in his previous four starts.
- Colby Lewis is 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA (16 ER/21.0 IP) in his career against the Royals, but two of his four starts against them came in 2003. Lewis' 12.07 hits allowed per nine innings are the most in baseball and the most by a Texas pitcher since Darren Oliver in 2000 (minimum 100 IP).
- Alex Gordon has hit .328 (22/67) with five home runs this month. Gordon is on pace to be the first Royal with a 1.000 or higher OPS in a month (minimum 70 PA) since Billy Butler in September 2009. Gordon's best OPS in a month is .980 in April 2011.
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By JORDAN GARRETSON
(AP) -- After a hiccup against the NL's worst team, the Kansas City Royals resumed their impressive run against the worst club the AL has to offer.
The Texas Rangers could be hard-pressed to slow down Kansas City on Saturday night given the power shown recently by Billy Butler and Josh Willingham.
The visiting Royals (71-56) bounced back from Wednesday's 5-2 loss at last-place Colorado with a 6-3 victory over the hapless Rangers (49-78) on Friday. Kansas City has won 23 of 29, turning an eight-game deficit in the AL Central into a 2 1/2-game edge over Detroit in that span.
Butler hit his eighth homer while Willingham connected for his 14th. Butler still owns a career-worst OPS of .718 but has compiled a .972 mark over his last 18 games. Willingham is batting .344 and slugging .656 in 10 games since being acquired from the Twins, for whom he hit .210 and slugged .402 over 68 contests.
Willingham's former club is 14 games out of first place while Kansas City is eyeing its first playoff berth since 1985.
"Obviously, it's awesome being in a pennant race, and every game, every at-bat means something," Willingham said.
Though Salvador Perez was 0 for 5, his presence in the lineup was a welcome relief after he had been scratched from Wednesday's lineup due to discomfort in his right knee. An MRI only showed inflammation, alleviating some concern considering the All-Star catcher underwent surgery two years ago for a torn meniscus in his other knee.
Jeremy Guthrie (9-10, 4.48 ERA) will take aim at winning a career-high fourth straight road start. He owns a 2.45 ERA in that stretch, though he looked vulnerable in Sunday's 12-6 win at Minnesota, yielding four runs - three on two homers - over seven innings. He received 11 runs of support, marking the third time in five outings he was backed with at least six runs.
Guthrie has never won in four starts at Texas, going 0-1 with a 5.82 ERA. Elvis Andrus is 8 for 19 against him with a home run and two doubles.
The Rangers have struggled to find good starting pitching lately, with their staff compiling a 6.99 ERA while losing six of eight. Nick Tepesch (4-7, 4.15) has been strong of late, however, posting a 2.45 ERA in his last four starts.
He's just 1-1 in that span, largely due to receiving only six runs of support over 25 2-3 innings.
He held the Los Angeles Angels to two runs while pitching seven innings for the second straight outing for the first time in his career in Texas' 3-2 win on Sunday.
"It's starting to come together for him," manager Ron Washington said of the 25-year-old Kansas City native.
Tepesch allowed an unearned run and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings in his only start versus Kansas City, coming away without a decision in the Rangers' 4-1 home loss on June 1, 2013.
The Royals had dropped 10 of 11 at Texas before taking four of the last six meetings there.
Updated August 23, 2014