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AL East-leading Yanks go for sweep of Royals

9:56 AM, May 12, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Finding themselves in sole possession of first place in the AL East, the New York Yankees aim to complete a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

In Friday's series opener, the Yankees rode the hot bat of Lyle Overbay to an 11-6 drubbing of the Royals.

Saturday's matchup was a little different as New York held on for a slim 3-2 victory. The key hit of the contest was a two-run home run from Vernon Wells in the fifth inning after the Royals had built a 2-1 lead.

The home run was Wells' only hit in four at-bats while Jayson Nix (2-for-3) was the only Yankee with more than one hit. Andy Pettitte collected the win for the Yankees by limiting Kansas City to two runs over seven innings while striking out seven. David Robertson struck out the side in the eighth and Mariano Rivera shut the door in the ninth for his 14th save.

The Yankees have won four straight and now own a one-game lead on Boston and Baltimore for first in the AL East standings.

James Shields took the loss for Kansas City despite a strong effort. The right-hander went eight innings and allowed three runs, two of which were earned, and struck out five.

Billy Butler went 1-for-4 with a solo home run and Salvador Perez was 2-for-4 with a double for the Royals, who have lost five of their last six.

After a slow start to the season, Hiroki Kuroda has been downright dominant and will look to keep that going on Sunday when he toes the rubber for the Yankees.

Kuroda allowed five runs in just 6 2/3 innings in his first two starts, but since then has gone at least six innings in five straight starts and allowed a total of six runs in those outings. Most recently, Kuroda twirled seven innings in which he allowed just a pair of runs at Colorado. Kuroda didn't get any run support in the contest though and took the 2-0 loss.

Teams from the AL Central seem to have Kuroda's number, however. Along with Detroit and Minnesota, Kansas City is the only other team that Kuroda has faced without collecting a victory. He is 0-2 with an ERA of 4.66 in two starts against the Royals.

One of three starters in the Kansas City rotation with an ERA below 3.00, Ervin Santana gets the task of facing the Yankees in Sunday's matinee.

Along with James Shields (2.52) and Jeremy Guthrie (2.28), Santana has helped form quite a trio at the top of the Royals' rotation. Santana is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.36 and perhaps more impressively a WHIP of just 1.071.

Santana wasn't exactly dominant in his last start which came on Tuesday. He let up three runs on seven hits in six innings en route to a no-decision against Baltimore. The three runs were the most Santana had allowed since his first start of the season when he was tagged for four against Chicago. The six innings also snapped a streak of four straight starts for Santana of at least seven innings.

There will be plenty of familiarity between Santana and the batters in pinstripes. This will be the 15th time the right-hander has faced the Yankees which will tie Toronto and Cleveland for the third-most appearances he has made against a team not in the AL West. Before this season, Santana spent the first eight years of his career with the Angels. All that experience hasn't equated to much success against New York and he is just 5-6 with an ERA of 5.90.

The Yankees are now 9-6 against the Royals since the start of 2011.

The Sports Network

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