NEW YORK -- The Kansas City Royals appear to be positioning themselves for a chance at defending their World Series title. The New York Mets, meanwhile, seem a lot more than 171 days removed from falling to the Royals in the World Series.
The Mets will host the Royals in a World Series rematch on Tuesday night when the reigning league champions meet in the opener of a two-game series at Citi Field.
The Royals (38-31) are just 1 1/2 games better than the Mets (36-32). But Kansas City, which ended a four-game weekend series against the Detroit Tigers with three straight wins, entered Monday's off-day a half-game behind the American League Central-leading Cleveland Indians and in second place in the wild-card standings.
"These last couple days, we've been playing really good baseball," Royals third baseman Chestor Cuthbert said after delivering the winning hit in the 13th inning of Sunday's 2-1 victory over the Tigers.
The Mets, on the other hand, were outscored 15-4 during a three-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, who have the worst record in the National League. New York produced only one base runner in Sunday's 6-0 loss when Braves right-hander Julio Teheran came within a third-inning single by left fielder Michael Conforto of throwing a perfect game.
The Mets have lost six of their last eight, all against sub-500 clubs, to fall into third place in the NL East, six games behind the division-leading Washington Nationals and into third place in the wild-card standings, a half-game behind the front-running Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers.
After New York's loss on Sunday, manager Terry Collins hinted at impending changes for the Mets, who rank 28th in the majors with 250 runs scored.
"You don't want to panic early," Collins said. "But right now, with what's going on, we are going to shake some things up."
The Mets might get a boost Tuesday when catcher Travis d'Arnaud is scheduled to be activated from the 15-day disabled list. D'Arnaud had just one RBI in 13 games before suffering a right shoulder injury on April 25.
Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy takes the mound for Kansas City on Tuesday against Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who picked up New York's only win in the World Series last season by alllowing three runs in six innings in Game 3.