Royals right-hander Ervin Santana will take his second shot at earning career win No. 100 on Sunday when Kansas City looks to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Yankees.
Santana, who took a no-decision on Tuesday despite a quality start in his first bid to reach the century mark, knows the win won't come easy against the American League East-leading Yankees. After earning a win in each of his first four career starts against the Yankees, Santana is just 1-6 against the Bronx Bombers in 10 outings since and hasn't defeated New York since Aug. 1, 2008.
"A lot of people just try to do too much. I know they're a good team," Santana said. "They're aggressive. But if you make your pitches, you're going to [get] them out."
Making Santana's quest for No. 100 more difficult will be opposing starter Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda takes the hill for the series finale on Mother's Day coming off a hard-luck loss on Tuesday against the Rockies in which he allowed just two runs over seven innings in New York's 2-0 loss.
Even with the defeat, Kuroda still sports a 4-2 record and a 2.30 ERA in seven starts this season. The right-hander has turned in five consecutive quality starts dating back to his shutout against the Orioles on April 14.
Santana, too, has turned in five consecutive quality starts following his only loss of the season in his Royals debut on April 3. He has pitched at least six innings in all six starts this season and has completed seven or more frames in four of those outings.
"For me, I'm not trying to get too pumped up," said Santana, who enters Sunday's start 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA. "I'm just trying to be at the same level. Not trying to do too much. Just keep doing what I'm doing. Just trying to make it simple, that's it."
Yankees: Nunez still out with rib cage discomfort
Shortstop Eduardo Nunez missed his fifth straight game Saturday with continuing discomfort in his rib cage and his status remains up in the air.
Nunez has hoped to avoid a stint on the disabled list, but time is running out before that becomes a reality. He has not played since being removed from a May 5 game against the Athletics, and manager Joe Girardi said he would need another infielder if Nunez is still unavailable by the time New York plays a doubleheader on Monday in Cleveland.
"I thought he'd be ready. He's not ready, so we'll have to make an evaluation," Girardi said on Saturday. "We'll see what he can do today and see where we're at."
Potential replacements for Nunez if he indeed ends up on the DL include Corban Joseph and Ronnier Mustelier, both currently playing at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Royals: Right-handed reliever Wheeler released
Dan Wheeler, assigned to Triple-A Omaha to start the season despite an impressive display in Spring Training, was released by the Royals on Saturday.
After posting a 1.50 ERA with 14 strikeouts and just one walk over 12 innings in 12 Cactus League outings, the 35-year-old reliever went 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA over 15 frames in 11 appearances for Omaha.
• Santana has faced Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki more times (93) than any other hitter. Suzuki is 29-for-86 (.337) with seven walks and just four strikeouts in those plate appearances.
• The Royals are one of just four teams that Kuroda has never recorded a win against. The Tigers, Twins and Dodgers are the others, though he has never faced Los Angeles.