(Updated: UPDATES Kansas City standing in third sentence)
Not only did the Kansas City Royals have to watch the Cleveland Indians celebrate an American League Central title over the weekend, but the latest loss served as a reminder how far a postseason berth is from their grasp. Losers of four of five, Kansas City resumes its 11-game road trip by opening a three-game series at the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Kansas City’s chances of making up a 4 1/2-game deficit on Minnesota for the second wild card appears bleak - especially with as many as six other teams contending for the same slot - with only 13 contests remaining on the season overall and the next seven on the road. The Royals also are a physical mess, forcing manager Ned Yost to sit regulars Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas for the series finale at Cleveland. Sunday’s loss dropped the Royals three games under .500 for the first time since June 17 as they prepare to face Toronto, which has won six of nine but is relegated to playing spoiler. Right-hander Marcus Stroman will get the nod for the Blue Jays in the series opener while Yost remains still undecided on his starter.
TV: 7:07 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, Sportsnet (Toronto)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Ian Kennedy (4-11, 5.45 ERA) or RH Sam Gaviglio (4-5, 4.35) vs. Blue Jays RH Marcus Stroman (11-8, 3.08)
Kennedy is winless since July 26 and was held out of his last start due to shoulder tightness, but Yost is holding out hope he can go - otherwise, Gaviglio will get the call. “We just got to see how Ian feels,” Yost told reporters Sunday. “We’re leaving it open at this point. He’s getting better. But if not, we’ve got Sam.” Kennedy is 0-5 in his last eight starts, while Gaviglio has yielded three runs in his last two starts.
Stroman lost his second straight start last time out, giving up two unearned runs over six innings while dealing with tightness in his forearm, but he pronounced himself good to go. He is seeking what would be a career-best 12th win and, despite a sub-.500 home record, he owns a 2.60 ERA in 16 starts at Rogers Centre this season. Melky Cabrera has been a nemesis for Stroman with five hits in nine at-bats.
1. Blue Jays 3B Josh Donaldson, riding a six-game hitting streak, was 9-for-14 with five homers over his last three games.
2. Royals DH Brandon Moss has four homers and 13 RBIs in the past eight games.
3. Perez has missed three games with an intercostal strain but is expected in the lineup Tuesday.
PREDICTION: Blue Jays 6, Royals 4