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Royals-Blue Jays Preview

AP - Sports

Jason Vargas provided a blueprint for how to shut down the Toronto Blue Jays, but the rookie getting the ball Saturday night for the Kansas City Royals may not be the one best suited to follow it.

Making his first major league start, Aaron Brooks will fill the spot of the injured Yordano Ventura and try to keep the Royals winning at Rogers Centre.

Brooks (0-0, 27.00 ERA) will be called up from Triple-A Omaha prior to the start, occupying the slot of Ventura, who had been wowing observers by hitting triple digits on the radar gun and posting a 3.45 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 57 1-3 innings, despite a 2-5 record. He's being skipped as a precautionary measure after leaving his last start with elbow pain, though an MRI taken afterward showed nothing out of the ordinary.

The 24-year-old Brooks made his major league debut in relief against Detroit on May 3, giving up six runs - all in his second inning of work - in a 9-2 defeat. After being sent back to the Storm Chasers, the right-hander went 4-0 in as many starts with a 2.05 ERA. He struck out only 16 in 26 1-3 innings.

"He's been throwing good. He's a kid that's not afraid. Throws strikes, commands the ball. A simple decision," manager Ned Yost told the Royals' official website. "That's who they recommended, we had a lot of people there watching."

Yost can only hope Brooks was watching Vargas, who allowed a solo home run to Jose Bautista and six other hits in six innings of Friday's 6-1 victory. Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon homered for the Royals (26-28), who have won the first two games of this series and cooled off a Blue Jays team that had won nine straight.

The home runs represented a rare power surge for Kansas City, which has a major league-low 24. By comparison, Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion - whom the Royals walked three times Friday - has 16 this month and 18 overall.

''This is more of the offense that we envisioned coming out of spring training,'' Yost said. ''We're not going to be a club that's going to lead the league in home runs but we've got home-run power that we haven't used.''

Toronto (32-24) will try to get back on track with a rookie of its own as top prospect Marcus Stroman (1-0, 12.79) will make his first major league start. The 23-year-old was hit hard in his last two relief appearances earlier this month before being sent down, giving up nine runs and 11 hits in three innings.

The move was made to give originally scheduled starter Drew Hutchinson a couple of extra days' rest in his first year following Tommy John surgery.

"We've been trying to pick some spots, give Hutch a little breather," manager John Gibbons told the Jays' official website. "After his last start, I thought he looked a little bit tired."

Stroman lost both his starts with Buffalo after being demoted, giving up seven runs and 10 hits in nine innings.

Gordon has gone 11 for 30 during an eight-game hitting streak, and Cain has raised his average 30 points to .339 in his last nine games by going 15 for 37 (.405).

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