Three days after notching their longest winning streak in 20 years, the Kansas City Royals are on the brink of their first three-game slide in more than three weeks.
They may need Jason Vargas to cool off Robinson Cano's bat in order to avoid that fate Saturday against the Seattle Mariners.Kansas City's 10-game winning streak -- snapped Thursday in a 2-1 loss at Detroit -- marked the club's longest since a 13-game run in 1994. However, the Royals (39-34) trail the Tigers again by a half-game in the AL Central after dropping their second straight Friday night, losing 7-5 to Seattle in front of their first sellout crowd at Kauffman Stadium since opening day."It was great to see the crowd come out, obviously a sellout. We love it when the fans come out," said starter James Shields, who was charged with five runs in seven innings. "We didn't get a win for them tonight, but hopefully they keep coming out and we'll get some wins here."The Royals haven't dropped three in a row since losing four straight May 25-28.Brad Miller hit the go-ahead homer in the ninth against closer Greg Holland, who had thrown 15 2/3 scoreless innings over his previous 14 appearances. Miller is 7 for 17 over his last five games.The Mariners (38-36), who had lost seven of 10, also got two hits and two RBIs from Cano, who is batting .419 with 15 RBIs during a 21-game road hitting streak. His .389 average in 35 games since May 10 trails only Jose Altuve (.399) for the best in baseball.Kansas City, meanwhile, squandered a bases-loaded situation with one out in the eighth and finished 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position. The Royals are 4 for 22 in those situations over their last three games after batting .441 in the first nine games of their winning streak.They're hoping to bounce back with a strong performance from Vargas (7-2, 3.25 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his last five starts. The left-hander limited Detroit to two runs in seven innings of an 11-8 victory Monday.Vargas is 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA in four starts against the Mariners, for whom he pitched from 2009-2012. He beat them May 9 in Seattle with seven scoreless innings in a 6-1 victory, though Cano is 10 for 23 against him.Mariners starter Chris Young (6-4, 3.40) bounced back from back-to-back losses to throw six shutout innings in a 5-1 win over San Diego on Monday. The six victories are his most since he won seven in 2008 with San Diego, while his 3.40 ERA is his second-best in a season in which he's started at least five games.Young defeated Kansas City on May 10 with one of his best performances, yielding one run and three hits over eight innings in a 3-1 victory.Alex Gordon was 2 for 5 on Friday, rejoining Kansas City's lineup after missing his first game of 2014 with flu-like symptoms Thursday. He's 8 for 19 over his last four contests.Eric Hosmer is batting .378 over his last 11 matchups with Seattle after going 2 for 5 on Friday, while Billy Butler has hit .474 during a nine-game hitting streak overall.
Jason Vargas became the fifth pitcher in the last two seasons to lose a start in which he threw at least 8 2/3 innings and allowed two or fewer runs on Saturday.
He's the first Royals pitcher to have such a game since Jose Lima in 2005.
Salvador Perez has hit .350 this season in at-bats ending in a pitch in the upper third of the zone or higher, which ranks 12th of 170 qualified hitters. Chris Young has thrown the highest percentage of pitches in that zone this season among qualifiers (45.1 percent).