MIAMI (AP) — The Kansas City Royals haven’t had too much trouble with any opponent lately. That doesn’t figure to change during a visit from the NL-worst Miami Marlins.
Wade Davis will try to lead the Royals to their 17th win in 20 games with another strong outing in Monday night’s series opener.
Kansas City (61-54) has boosted its chances of ending a 28-year playoff drought with an 18-5 record since the All-Star break. The Royals bounced back from a 5-3 loss to visiting Boston on Saturday by holding on for a 4-3 victory the next day.
They scored all the runs they would need in the first three innings, and Alex Gordon hit his third homer in five games in the last of those frames. The win kept Kansas City within one-half game of second-place Cleveland in the AL Central and 4 1/2 back of Oakland in the race for the final wild-card berth.
“We’re playing great baseball right now. We just have to maintain our focus on that,” manager Ned Yost said.
Davis (5-9, 5.42 ERA) will try to keep the Royals rolling by continuing his recent turnaround. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in last two outings after going 0-4 with a 10.91 ERA in previous four.
Davis gave up two runs over five innings in his most recent outing, a 4-2 loss in 11 innings at the New York Mets on Aug. 2. He missed a scheduled start Tuesday because of the death of his stepbrother.
“It’s good to have Wade back. He’s in good spirits,” Yost told the team’s website. “He missed everybody and everybody missed him, so it’s good to have him back.”
Davis is seeking his first home win since April 10, losing his last five decisions there. He won his only start against the Marlins on June 17, 2011, allowing one run over six innings.
In this matchup, Davis will face a team that’s dropped seven of eight and is 1-5 on its nine-game road trip.
Miami (44-72) ended a six-game losing streak by topping NL East-leading Atlanta 1-0 on Saturday but couldn’t hold on to an early two-run lead in a 9-4 loss the next day. The Marlins led 3-1 after two innings in the series finale against the Braves but could not overcome giving up four runs in the seventh.
“That seventh inning is an inning, down in the bullpen we’re looking for one of those guys, those younger guys to step up and fill that role, whether it be (losing pitcher Dan Jennings) or A.J. Ramos,” manager Mike Redmond said. “That seventh inning, we just couldn’t stop them … We didn’t execute some pitches.”
Heading into his first start against Kansas City, Tom Koehler (3-7, 4.40) has alternated wins and losses in his last four outings. The right-hander gave up three runs, four hits and a walk over five innings in the most recent start, a 4-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Aug. 7.
The Royals won two of three over the Marlins in most recent matchup May 16-18, 2008, and took two of three in the last meeting at Kauffman Stadium from June 15-17, 2007.
Kansas City’s Chris Getz could be activated from the disabled list for this game and is expected to join newly acquired Jamey Carroll in a platoon at second base. The Royals got Carroll from Minnesota on Sunday after putting Miguel Tejada on the disabled list.
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