The odds are stacked against them as the Royals sit on the third place in the Central division, nine victories behind leading Tigers. The odds of leapfrogging both Cleveland and Detroit in the remaining months of the regular season are slim to none, but Kansas City is not going to lay down its weapons. Their best bet is to extend the winning streak long enough to overtake either Tampa Bay or Oakland Athletics and secure one of the two wildcards.
This week they’ve played some impressive baseball and swept Minnesota, at the Metrodome without conceding more than one run per game. Now they travel to Toronto to face another rock-bottom team, with the Blue Jays being long eliminated from the playoffs race. They’ve won just three of the last 10 games, but enjoyed an unexpected surge against the New York Yankees to win the series.
Now they turn to one of their best pitchers and hope that Mark Buehrle will extend his winning streak of six consecutive decisions after an impressive performance in August. He faced the Royals more times than any other pitcher in Toronto and except for Billy Butler, opponent sluggers didn’t cause him too many headaches. Overall he conceded an average of four runs per game and was tagged for seven lost decisions in 2013 but he can improve his record with six starts left.
The match preview at http://espn.go.com/mlb/preview?id=330830114 suggests that the visitors will come out firing on all cylinders trying to keep their faint playoffs hopes alive. Alex Gordon is the player that could help them break Mark Buehrle but all eyes are on the Royals’ starting pitcher Ervin Santana. He posted an ERA of 3.21 this season and he has every reason to be frustrated by the fact that he lost seven of the 15 decisions.
His teammates didn’t support him properly and even when he left them ahead after five or more innings, the reliever somehow found a way to squander that advantage. Nevertheless, he will need to stay sharp tonight and capitalize on the fact that the home team lacks motivation and struggles offensively. Ervin won his last three decisions in Toronto and since the All-Star break he lost just one decision while limiting opponents to less than three runs per match. This is one of those rare opportunities to back the visiting team, with most bookmakers offering odds of 1.90 and above.