Each remaining game has added importance for the Royals, who saw their three-game win streak snapped with a 6-4 loss to the Mariners on Wednesday night.
Kansas City hopes right-hander Jeremy Guthrie can continue his strong pitching as it fights to stay in the American League playoff picture.
Guthrie carried a shutout into the seventh inning in his last start against the Blue Jays before exiting with one run on eight hits and no walks in seven innings. The Royals' bullpen gave up three runs in the eighth inning of a 4-2 loss.
"I would have liked to have lost that game on my own," Guthrie said. "I think that's another responsibility of the starter is to go out and work as deep as you can. [But] we have a good bullpen and, ultimately, I think that's why [manager Ned Yost] went to them because they have been phenomenal all season."
Guthrie will be opposed by Mariners lefty Joe Saunders, who also was pulled from his last start earlier than he wanted. Though he struggled throughout August, Saunders allowed one unearned run on six hits in 5 1/3 innings through 86 pitches against the Astros last Saturday.
"I wasn't happy about coming out of the game," Saunders said. "But I'm never happy about coming out. I thought I had a lot left in the tank, but he's the manager for a reason. He makes those decisions."
Royals: Cain returns from the DL
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday after battling an oblique injury.
"He can help us," Yost said. "He can improve our outfield defense for the back third of the game."
Cain, who has been out since Aug. 9, is batting .261 with 25 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs in 96 games.
• Chris Getz was reportedly feeling better on Wednesday after leaving Tuesday night's game after two innings with dizziness and an upset stomach.
Mariners: Wedge is confident in Franklin
Although Nick Franklin hasn't played to his expectations, batting .223 with a .399 slugging percentage after going 2-for-4 with a double on Wednesday, he still has a supporter in the Mariners' dugout.
Wedge said he thinks Franklin is an everyday player who just has some things to learn.
"Learning how to handle the failure -- not necessarily accept it, but handle it -- is a big part of being a consistent big leaguer," Wedge said. "He needs to do a better job of that, and he will. He has a great deal of ability."
• Billy Butler has reached base safely in 27 consecutive games at Kauffman Stadium, batting .376 with six doubles and four home runs in that span.
• Saunders is 4-0 with a 2.81 ERA in seven starts against the Royals.
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.