Whitley eyes first big league win vs. Royals

There is little dispute now that Masahiro Tanaka has emerged as the ace of the New York Yankees' rotation.

Chase Whitley, meanwhile, has been a solid addition to the injured group as well and the right-hander will try to secure his first Major League victory on Friday night when the Yankees open a four-game set with the hosting Kansas City Royals.

The Yankees spent big money this offseason to add Tanaka to their rotation, while Whitley has found himself in the mix due to injuries suffered by Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia.

Whitley has held his own with a 2.37 earned run average through five starts, but has yet to receive a decision. He has gone a career-high five innings in back-to-back starts, including Sunday's outing versus Minnesota in which he was denied a win after the Twins rallied late for a 7-2 victory.

Whitley, who turns 25 on June 14, gave up a run on five hits and struck out six without a walk in his home debut.

He will be trying to pitch the Yankees to a second straight win after Tanaka played the role of stopper on Thursday. The hurler yielded one run over six solid frames, lifting New York to a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Tanaka picked up his ninth win of the campaign and halted New York's four-game losing streak. His outing came after he named the AL Pitcher of the Month for May as he went 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in six starts with 42 strikeouts in 43 innings.

"He's the most experienced," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "What he's done in Japan and what he's been able to do here, he's stepped up for us and kind of assumed that (ace) role."

New York outfielder Carlos Beltran went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his return from the 15-day disabled list. He batted fifth as the team's designated hitter.

New York begins a 10-game road trip against a Kansas City club that is coming off a series victory over its I-70 Series rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Kansas City won both meetings in St. Louis, then followed up Wednesday's extra-inning loss at home with a 3-2 victory on Thursday.

All three of the Royals' runs came in the sixth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit, with Norichika Aoki, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez all connecting on run- scoring hits.

Yordano Ventura snapped a four-start losing streak after giving up two runs on seven hits over six innings for the Royals.

"You'll take a split in a series, but you don't pick up ground when you're taking splits," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "Today was a really big game for us, to take three out of four against a team like St. Louis is big for us."

It has been a tough go of things for scheduled Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, who is 0-5 in his past 10 starts since winning his first two outings of the season. Guthrie has a 4.00 ERA on the year, but has given up two runs or fewer five times over his winless stretch.

The right-hander has given up just four runs total in his last three games, but has suffered back-to-back losses, with Kansas City shut out in each game. Guthrie held Toronto to just two runs over seven innings on Sunday in a 4-0 loss.

Guthrie, 35, is 5-9 in 18 career meetings with the Yankees -- 16 starts -- and has a 4.90 ERA in that span.

The Yankees have won seven of their past nine versus the Royals and swept a three-game set in Kansas City in May of last year.