Mariners-Royals Preview

The Kansas City Royals have made a notable shake-up as they try to get back on track before the postseason.

Getting untracked halfway through the season has put Robinson Cano on the verge of a major milestone.

One hit shy of 2,000, Cano looks to help the visiting Seattle Mariners extend the Royals' current struggles on Wednesday night.

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Kansas City's magic number to clinch its first division title since 1985 remained at three Tuesday after an 11-2 loss to Seattle (74-77). It was the Royals' 12th defeat in 17 games.

"Right now, you have supreme confidence in your club, but you don't feel good about what's going on," manager Ned Yost told MLB's official website. "There's no major concern, though."

Still owners of the best record in the AL, the Royals (87-63) won't make too much of this rough stretch, especially since they split the final 20 games prior to last season's memorable playoff run.

However, Yost did announce Tuesday that set-up man Wade Davis will replace Greg Holland as the Royals closer. Nursing a sore elbow, Holland has blown five saves this season to match his total from the previous two.

Davis is 7-1 with an 0.88 ERA and has converted 13 of 14 save chances this year.

"You know what you've got with Wade," Yost said. "With Holly you don't know from one day to the next how his elbow is going to respond. If it's going to be tight or sore or stiff."

The Royals were far from a save situation Tuesday as Cano delivered a good chunk of the damage with two home runs.

About to become the 14th major leaguer to reach 2,000 hits in his first 11 seasons, Cano has three home runs and eight RBIs in the last two games. For a while it appeared he might not reach the milestone this year with a .249 average through 87 games, but he's regrouped to hit .335 in his last 58.

"I would say it means a lot, not only for me, but to anybody to get to 2,000," he said. "For me, it will be very special."

Cano is 1 for 4 and has walked twice in six plate appearances against Yordano Ventura (12-8, 4.40 ERA), who has won two straight starts but owns a 5.63 ERA in the last three. He hasn't completed six innings in any of those three and yielded eight hits in each while totaling 10 walks.

The right-hander has a 2.84 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners despite going 0-2, though he hasn't faced them since June 2014.

An AL-best 13-6 this month, Seattle counters with Roenis Elias (5-8, 4.06).

Since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 23, the left-hander is 1-2 with a 3.57 ERA in four starts. Due to an off day last Thursday, Elias is making his first start since Sept. 12 when he allowed two unearned runs, one hit and struck out eight in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-2 victory over Colorado. He did pitch in relief Friday at Texas, striking out the only batter he faced.

Elias now looks for a better effort than his last against Kansas City on June 24. He yielded seven runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings of an 8-2 defeat.

Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer off Elias in that game. Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar are a combined 6 for 13 against him.

Gordon, however, is 0 for 18 with 10 strikeouts in his last five games.