Yankees-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

Coming off a rare loss, the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals are looking to bounce back in front of their home fans.

Kansas City opens a 10-game homestand against the New York Yankees, who are looking to match their longest winning streak of the season as these teams make up a previous postponement Monday night.

The Royals (72-57) were denied a sweep in Texas on Sunday, losing 3-1 to close out a 6-3 road trip. Billy Butler provided the offense with his second homer in three days as Kansas City went 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position.

"Everybody's full of life. We're in a pennant race, man," said manager Ned Yost, who scoffed at the idea his club was worn out. "Keep winning series, and we're going to be OK."

Despite the defeat, the Royals are a major league-best 24-7 since July 22 and also have won 12 of 15 at home. Their division lead was cut to two after Detroit beat Minnesota on Sunday.

"We're up by two. We had a chance to keep it at three," Butler told MLB's official website. "Three definitely sounds a lot better than two. Two's too close, three feels all right. I'm not satisfied with three, I want four. That's just the way it is."

The Yankees (67-61) are seeking a fifth consecutive win after sweeping the Chicago White Sox over the weekend. Brian McCann hit a pinch-hit three-run homer in the 10th inning in Sunday's 7-4 victory.

New York, which plays its next seven away from home, is six games behind AL East-leading Baltimore and 3 1/2 back of Seattle for the second wild-card spot. The Yankees also won five straight April 12-17.

"We're chasing teams and we need to win. ... we need to go and have a good road trip," manager Joe Girardi said. "We've always talked about where momentum starts. It starts with your starting pitcher the next day. But it's a good feeling going on the road when you're going on a strange trip where you're going to a city to play one day."

New York now turns to Michael Pineda (2-2, 2.05 ERA) who is winless in two starts since returning from a shoulder injury despite a 2.45 ERA. He allowed two runs over six-plus innings Wednesday but didn't receive a decision in a 5-2 loss to Houston.

"I'm feeling good. I had good energy, but I don't have control for this situation," said Pineda, who was removed after throwing 89 pitches. "I want to pitch, but they have control."

Pineda went 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two matchups against the Royals in 2011 with Seattle.

The Royals counter with James Shields (12-6, 3.28), who has compiled a 2.04 ERA over his last nine starts. The right-hander is looking to win a fourth consecutive decision after yielding two runs over six innings in Tuesday's 7-4 victory at Colorado.

While Shields' 15 losses against the Yankees are his most against any team, he's won back-to-back starts in the series behind a 0.69 ERA. He yielded one unearned run over six innings in a 2-1 victory June 8.

Shields has baffled Mark Teixeira over the years, holding him to six hits in 48 at-bats. Derek Jeter is 4 for 21 in their matchups since 2012.

Kansas City, which won the last two of a rain-shortened three-game set against the Yankees from June 6-8, hasn't posted three consecutive victories in the series since 2005.

Butler is batting .326 with three homers and 11 RBIs over a 13-game stretch at home.

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