Preview: Rays try to keep offense rolling in another showdown with Royals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kauffman Stadium has been a horror house for the Tampa Bay Rays.

It wasn't on Monday night, though, as the Rays crushed the Royals 12-0 and in doing so moved a half-game in front of Kansas City in the American League wild-card standings.

Tampa Bay cruised by taking advantage of a Royals offense that is in an epic slump. Kansas City has been shut out in four consecutive games and has not scored in 43 innings.

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Before the Monday beat-down, Tampa Bay had lost eight in a row and 15 of its past 16 at Kansas City. In the eight straight defeats, the Royals scored at least six runs in each. The Rays had a 7.86 ERA since 2012 at Kauffman Stadium.

"I think ultimately, we have talked about that, but we've got to find a way to move past it and find a way to win some games here," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It doesn't matter where we're at.

"I like the way we played in St. Louis. That's not an easy place to go in and play. They've got a good team, great fans, great atmosphere, and we played well to win a series. So, kind of duplicate that and take it into here in Kansas City."

After the Rays' Monday rout, the Royals have been outscored 24-0 in the past two games.

"It wasn't a great weekend," Royals designated hitter Brandon Moss said of being outscored 20-0 while getting swept by the Indians. "Nobody wanted to go on that trip and lose three games to Cleveland. Nobody wanted to start the season 2-and-8 or whatever we started. But we did.

"You come back in the next day and do the best you can. We're in a position to have a shot to make the postseason. We may not be in the position we wanted. It may not be in the position that we thought we had a position to be in, but regardless, we're in the thick of something here."

With the Monday win, the Rays pulled within 2 1/2 games of the Twins in the race for the second AL wild card. The Royals are three games behind Minnesota.

"We're home now," Moss said. "We've got a really big series against a team that's in the middle of it with us. We're going to try to get it done."

The Royals did not get it done in the series opener, nor did they play any better than they played in Cleveland.

Tampa Bay will start right-hander Alex Cobb (9-8, 3.69 ERA) in the second game of the three-game series. Cobb was 4-5 with a 4.59 ERA in his first 12 starts this year. In his past dozen starts, he is 5-3 with a 2.90 ERA that ranks fifth in the AL during that span.

He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his past 12 starts and two earned runs or fewer in nine of the 12 outings.

Cobb is 1-2 with a 4.55 ERA in five career starts against the Royals. He last faced them on July 9, 2014. He missed two months in 2013 after an Eric Hosmer line drive struck him near his right ear on June 15. He sustained a concussion and was carted off the field on a stretcher.

Hosmer is 5-for-14 (.357) with two homers and four RBIs off Cobb. Salvador Perez is 5-for-12 (.417) vs. the righty, and Mike Moustakas is 4-for-12 with a home run.

The Royals will counter with rookie right-hander Jake Junis, who picked up his first big league win at Tampa Bay on May 9 with a scoreless 11th inning in relief.

Junis (5-2, 4.68 ERA) is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his past three starts. He is 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA in nine starts overall.