Determined Royals conclude set with Indians

( - Things didn't go so well for Jason Vargas the last time he took the mound in a big game for Kansas City. The left-hander hopes for better results on Wednesday night when the playoff-hopeful Royals try to complete a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians.

Vargas took the mound last Friday in the opener of a big three-game set with the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers, but lasted only 3 1/3 innings and was charged with five runs in suffering a third straight loss. He has a 9.00 earned run average over his personal slide.

The 31-year-old is 11-10 with a 3.59 ERA on the year and 3-3 lifetime versus the Indians with a 4.88 ERA. That includes a recent loss on Aug. 29 when he was touched for four runs and 10 hits over six innings.

Vargas will look to get the Royals one step closer to their first playoff berth since 1985 as the club is tied with Oakland for the top wild card spot in the AL, three games ahead of Seattle.

Kansas City has a magic number of three to clinch a wild card spot with five games to play and also remains only one game back of the first-place Tigers.

Catching Detroit remains the goal for manager Ned Yost, who in last night's 7-1 win tied Dick Howser for the most games managed in club history with 770.

"Again, the wild card has always been Plan B," said Yost. "We're in good shape right now. Our focus is winning this division."

Yordano Ventura hurled seven scoreless innings in Tuesday night's win, while Omar Infante, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon all drove in two runs each.

Things look much more bleak for the Tribe, who were eliminated from the race for the AL Central title and trail a wild card spot by 4 1/2 games.

The Indians would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss in tonight's finale.

Danny Salazar was charged with five runs on eight hits and struck out eight over 4 2/3 innings in Tuesday's loss.

"He came out of the chute working ahead, then all of a sudden he started throwing pitches up. It was almost like two different pitchers," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of Salazar.

Looking to keep Cleveland's faint playoff chances alive tonight will be right- hander Trevor Bauer, who has not won in five starts but has just one loss in that span.

Bauer's winless stretch began with a no-decision versus Kansas City on Aug. 30 as he hurled 5 2/3 scoreless innings of four-hit ball, walking five and striking out six in his club's 3-2 win.

The 23-year-old lost last time out on Friday versus Minnesota, charged with three runs on four hits and two homers over six innings. Cleveland lost the game 5-4.

Bauer is 5-8 with a 4.06 ERA on the year and 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two lifetime meetings with the Royals.

These two clubs have now split 18 meetings this season.