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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, July 28th (All times eastern)

Kansas City Royals (41-58) at Seattle Mariners (45-57), 4:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Kansas City - Bruce Chen (7-8, 5.54) Seattle - Kevin Millwood (3-8, 4.13)

(Sports Network) - Even though they have won two straight and three of their last four outings, the Seattle Mariners still find themselves in a familiar spot as they clash with the Kansas City Royals in the third test of a four- game set at Safeco Field on Saturday.

Seattle, which has avoided back-to-back defeats since the start of the second half of the season, has captured five wins in the last seven games overall and while that might be cause to celebrate, the sad truth is that the club is 15 games out of contention in the American League West, the largest deficit for any team in the league.

The Mariners are also the only team in the West with a negative scoring differential (minus-9), but the squad does have reason to be somewhat optimistic thanks to a 6-1 win over Kansas City on Friday night.

John Jaso delivered a three-run home run in the first inning for the hosts and then added a sacrifice fly in the second frame to get the Mariners off and running.

"With a runner on third base and less than two outs, I was looking for a ball up and something I could lift into the outfield," Jaso said of his fifth home run of the season. "And that's just what I got. Luckily, I put enough barrel on it to get it out."

Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp both chipped in with a couple of hits and an RBI for the Mariners, while Blake Beavan evened his season record at 6-6 by giving up just one run on four hits, striking out six, over 6 2/3 innings.

"I'm pleased, but I'm not satisfied," Beavan said of his effort. "I want to keep building on each start and get back to where I need to be, which is competing and getting deep in the game and giving our guys a chance to win a ballgame every night."

Suffering the loss was Jeremy Guthrie who was touched for all six of the runs scored by Seattle. The hurler made it through just 5 1/3 innings as he permitted 11 hits and struck out four in the team's third straight setback and the fifth in six games.

Billy Butler posted two of the four hits generated by Kansas City batters, scoring his team's only run in the top of the second inning as the Royals dropped to 13 games off the pace in the AL Central and into a last-place tie with Minnesota in the standings.

Despite having a record of just 3-8 on the season, Kevin Millwood still has a job with the Mariners and is listed as the starter for the home team this afternoon. Now in his 16th major league season, the right-hander has latched on with his seventh different club and the fourth in as many seasons as he tries to survive in the Pacific Northwest.

Millwood, who has a career mark of 6-5 to go along with a 4.81 ERA versus Kansas City, was rattled by the Royals on July 18 when he was touched for seven runs on 10 hits through only five innings of work. While he wasn't saddled with the loss, Millwood was charged with the defeat on Monday when he gave up three runs on nine hits and a pair of walks in seven innings against the Yankees.

A native of North Carolina, Millwood hasn't tasted victory since he rattled off three straight wins in May.

Another pitcher who is getting long in the tooth and has made quite a number of stops on his 14-year, major league journey is Bruce Chen for the Royals. A member of the KC staff since 2009, the left-hander is a game under .500 on the season (7-8) and is in jeopardy of falling to an even 67-67 for his career if he comes out on the short end of today's battle.

Chen, who matched up with Millwood in the same game 10 days ago, has not recorded a win since late June and has gone without a decision in each of his last three outings.

On Monday Chen permitted three runs on five hits and a couple of walks, striking out three, in 5 1/3 innings of action against the Angels in what turned into a 6-3 setback for Kansas City.

Against the Mariners, Chen is a perfect 4-0 and has one save to go along with a 3.10 ERA in 12 all-time appearances.

In terms of offense, these two clubs are among the weakest in baseball with Seattle last in the AL in runs scored with a mere 401 through 102 games and Kansas City not far behind at 406 over the course of 99 contests.

07/28 10:21:09 ET