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Tampa Bay Rays up next: at Kansas City Royals

. UP NEXT

at Royals

Tonight-Wednesday

What's new: The Royals are on the rise because of a core of talented young position players — led by 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas, DH Billy Butler and C Salvador Perez, who just came off the DL — and the emergence of OF Alex Gordon. The pitching still needs improvement. Journeyman Bruce Chen is their top winner, and the starters have a 5.08 ERA, though Jonathan Broxton has stepped in extremely well for injured closer Joakim Soria. The defense could use work, too. But the Royals, who haven't been to the playoffs since 1985, are hanging around in the winnable American League Central, though they were swept by the Cardinals over the weekend.

Key stat: Since snapping a 12-game losing streak, the Royals are a majors-best 11-3 in one-run games.

Connections: Former Rays pitcher and front-office assistant Dave Eiland is Kansas City's pitching coach. … Suspended Rays RHP Joel Peralta and injured RHP Kyle Farnsworth were Royals.

Series history: Rays lead 65-48 overall; series is 26-26 in Kansas City.

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Rays up next: at Kansas City Royals 06/24/12 [Last modified: Sunday, June 24, 2012 9:48pm]

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