On Wednesday night, the Rays look to hand the Royals a sixth straight loss in the continuation of a three-game set at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay (26-28) won 6-2 on Tuesday to improve to 3-1 on a six-game homestand that followed five straight losses to conclude a 2-5 road trip.
Though the defending AL champions have been plagued by injuries, they are 14-11 at home where they’ve won eight of the last 11.
Kansas City (23-28), meanwhile, has been outscored 37-14 during its five-game losing streak. The Royals, who were coming off a 1-5 homestand, lost a season-high six in a row May 8-14.
On May 7, the Royals held a three-game lead in the AL Central, but are 5-17 since then.
“We’re just going through a really tough stretch right now,” said right fielder Jose Guillen(notes), who homered Tuesday. “We’re all grown-ups and we all need to look in the mirror and realize it’s not as bad a team as people think.”
Matt Joyce(notes) had three hits, including a two-run homer, and four RBIs on Tuesday for Tampa Bay. Joyce, who was traded to Tampa Bay from Detroit in December for Edwin Jackson(notes), is 5 for 7 with two homers and five RBIs in two games since being recalled from Triple-A Durham on Saturday.
“That’s what you want,” said Joyce, who played in three games for the Rays in April. “You want to come up and make an impression, have fun, win some ballgames and stick around.”
Joyce is batting .348 (16 for 46) with four homers and 15 RBIs in 13 games against Kansas City.
“It’s probably just a day-to-day thing,” said Longoria, the leading AL vote getter for this year’s All-Star game. “I think the telltale thing’s going to be (Wednesday).
Losing Longoria for any length of time would be a big blow to the Rays, who are already without shortstop Jason Bartlett(notes) (ankle), outfielder Pat Burrell(notes) (neck) and second baseman Akinori Iwamura(notes) (season-ending knee injury) - all currently on the disabled list.
Tampa Bay pitchers, though, have fared well of late by posting a 2.25 ERA in the last five games.
On Thursday, the right-hander allowed one run and five hits in three innings before rain delayed action at Cleveland for two hours and 40 minutes. Niemann did not return and the Rays’ lost 2-1.
Niemann, who hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in his last five starts, had won his previous two decisions heading into his most recent outing.
“That’s the way it goes sometimes,” Niemann told the Rays’ official Web site. “It’s tough. There’s nothing you can do about that situation.”
The right-hander allowed six earned runs and nine hits in five innings of an 11-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday. He is 1-2 with a 4.42 ERA against Tampa Bay.