KANSAS CITY -- It's fitting to note on a day that top starters James Shields of the Royals and Justin Verlander of the Tigers were warming up for a big matchup, that their teams ranked 1-2 in the American League in ERA.
The Royals were first at 3.48, followed by the Tigers' 3.56.
Quite a change from 2012, when the Royals finished 10th at 4.30, far behind the leading 3.19 posted by Shields' Tampa Bay club.
"Last year we struggled," Royals starting pitcher Luis Mendoza said. "But it's good to turn the page. Shields and [Ervin] Santana have been helping a lot and having a great season -- [Jeremy] Guthrie, too. My part is just to keep doing what they're doing. Every time they do good, I try to do the same thing."
Going into Wednesday's game, the Royals' starters ranked third in AL ERA at 3.76 (Detroit was first at 3.46) and their relievers were first with a 2.81 ERA.
"Actually, I hear the bullpen has the least innings thrown, too, so they talk about the starting rotation, but the bullpen has the lowest ERA in the league. So that's a great combination for the team," Mendoza said.
The bullpen's 157 innings before Wednesday's game was, indeed, the lowest total in the AL. That should pay off down the stretch.
"In the second half, sometimes [the starters] need more from the bullpen, because our arms get tired and it's good to save the bullpen. I know they're going to be ready when we need them," Mendoza said.
Manager Ned Yost isn't too concerned, though, about the Royals rotation wearing down late in the season.
"I think we've got some pretty durable guys and some workhorses who have been workhorses throughout their career -- Guthrie, Santana, Shields," Yost said.
Shields went into Wednesday's game with 93 innings, Guthrie had 85 and Santana 84 1/3. Mendoza missed a couple of starts, so he has just 58 innings. Among the full-timers, Wade Davis is the lowest with 68 2/3 innings, but the Royals have been cautious with his him because he pitched all of last season in relief.
"Davis is just getting back in the swing of [being a starter]," Yost said. "We kind of figured that he'd be getting better as the season went along. And he was really good [Tuesday] night."
Lough making his case to stay with fine play
KANSAS CITY -- Outfielder David Lough sparked the offense with his first Major League homer in the fifth inning on Tuesday night. It was the Royals' first hit in a 3-2 loss to the Tigers and it bolstered Lough's effort to earn a permanent spot on the roster.
Lough was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on May 17, when center fielder Jarrod Dyson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a high ankle sprain. In 20 games before Wednesday, Lough was batting .279 with 19 hits and six runs. He also had eight RBIs, seven coming with two outs.
"What he needed to do when he got up here was open our eyes a little bit and perform and create some offense for us, and he's done a great job," manager Ned Yost said.
Lough was hitting .340 for the Storm Chasers, including a 16-game hitting streak. He played 20 games for the Royals last season, hitting .237 with two doubles, a triple and nine runs scored.
Yost was non-committal about how Lough's success would factor in once Dyson is healthy enough to return.
"We're still evaluating and watching and looking," Yost said.
Dyson has played five games with Triple-A Omaha on his rehab assignment, batting .278 with five hits, three runs and four stolen bases.
Yost to take an off-day for daughter's wedding
KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost won't be in the dugout on Thursday night for the series opener at the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I'll be gone tomorrow," Yost said before Wednesday's homestand finale against the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. "I'm going back to Atlanta. My daughter [Jenny] is getting married. So, I'm going to go to the wedding [Thursday] and be back Friday."
Bench coach Chino Cadahia will direct the team in Yost's absence.
Royals sign deals with four more Draft picks
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals signed four more Draft picks on Tuesday.
The players to ink deals were: seventh-round pick Kyle Bartsch, a left-handed pitcher from the University of South Alabama; 10th-round pick Alex Newman, an outfielder from Cypress College; 11th-rounder Xavier Fernandez, a catcher from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, and 27th-rounder Chris Flecha, a left-handed pitcher from Caguas Military Academy.
With the latest additions, Kansas City has signed 22 of its 41 selections.
Royals continue to rate on FOX Sports KC
KANSAS CITY -- For the second straight night, the Royals broke viewership records for FOX Sports Kansas City.
Riding a six-game winning streak entering Tuesday, the Royals' 3-2 loss to the Tigers averaged an 8.8 household rating -- passing the 8.1 mark achieved for Monday's series opener. Viewership peaked at 11.2 from 8:30 to 8:45 p.m. CT.
The game was the highest-rated program in prime time in Kansas City, surpassing NCIS at 8.4 and Game 3 of the NBA Finals at 6.1 percent. Royals telecasts on FOX Sports Kansas City are averaging a 5.6, up 40 percent from last season.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.