The Kansas City Royals will try to do their part in avoiding playoff elimination on Wednesday night in the finale of a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners.
The Royals had won four of their previous five, including consecutive extra- inning victories, but were shut out 4-0 last night by the Mariners. The Cleveland Indians, holders of the second wild card spot in the AL, notched a walk-off win over the Chicago White Sox to move four games ahead of Kansas City.
Having not made the postseason since winning the 1985 World Series, the Royals can be eliminated from the wild card race as early as tonight with a loss and a victory by Cleveland.
Bruce Chen took the disappointing setback on Tuesday night, giving up all four runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings.
"We're not going to quit, we're not going to give up," said Chen. "As soon as we have a chance we're going to go out there and give everything we can."
Justin Smoak hit a three-run homer and James Paxton hurled seven scoreless innings in his fourth career start.
"I just felt really good," said Paxton. "I was just locked in on what was going on. Everything felt great."
Seattle won for the fourth time in 16 games and shoots for its first series victory tonight since taking two of three over Tampa Bay from Sept. 6-8.
Ervin Santana gets the big start for the Royals and is 9-9 with a 3.16 earned run average in 31 starts this season.
The right-hander snapped a three-decision slide with a 1-0 win over Detroit on Sept. 14, giving up five hits and one walk over 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
He was just as solid on Friday versus Texas, holding the Rangers to a run on five hits over 7 1/3 innings, but did not get a decision in the 2-1 win.
A former hurler for the Los Angeles Angels, the 30-year-old Santana went 1-1 with a 6.65 ERA in four starts versus the Mariners last year and then lasted just 3 1/3 innings against them on Sept. 4 of this year. He was charged with four runs on seven hits and three walks, but got a no-decision.
Hisashi Iwakuma gets the nod for Seattle looking to avoid his first loss since Aug. 10. He is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in seven starts since and got his first decision in five outings last Wednesday.
The 32-year-old righty logged eight scoreless innings of four-hit ball to best Detroit, walking two and fanning six.
"He controlled the game," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of his starter. "Just a great job."
Iwakuma, an All-Star this season, will face the Royals for the first time.
The Royals took three of four from the Mariners at home in early September after losing seven of eight in the season series last year.