Throughout a season filled with ups and downs -- and more of the latter -- Alex Gordon has served as the one constant in Royals manager Ned Yost's lineup.
Yost finally gave his leadoff man a day off on Saturday, the left fielder's first reprieve this season.
"It's just one of those days that you want to give him a day off," Yost said. "I told him, 'I don't want you doing much,' because he is the hardest worker we've got. I told him, 'I don't want you to go out and take 50 swings or 90 swings in the cage. You don't even have to take BP. I don't want you running around shagging balls in the outfield today. Just take it easy.'"
David Lough filled in admirably on Saturday, collecting two hits in five at-bats, but Gordon is expected to return for Sunday's series finale.
Gordon has actually scuffled at the plate lately, a trend this season for many of Kansas City's hitters. Since his 10-game hitting streak ended on May 23, Gordon is in a 10-for-57 slide, which has dropped his average to .310 from .352.
"Everybody's scuffling and everybody's going to scuffle," Yost said.
When Gordon steps into the batter's box on Sunday, he'll do so against Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell. The 28-year-old hurler is coming off one of his strongest efforts of the season. Harrell held the Orioles to two runs (one earned) on five hits across seven innings on Tuesday, but took the loss in the Astros' eventual 4-1 defeat.
Harrell will be tasked with trying to prevent a series sweep as he opposes Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza. The loss to Baltimore on Tuesday snapped Houston's six-game win streak. The club is 1-4 since that streak ended.
Astros: LeBlanc added to provide relief
In an attempt to bolster their bullpen, the Astros claimed left-hander Wade LeBlanc off waivers from the Marlins. LeBlanc, 28, is expected to join the club on Sunday in Kansas City.
LeBlanc went 1-5 with a 5.18 ERA for the Marlins this season. He appeared in 13 games and made seven starts.
"I saw him and liked him when he was in San Diego," manager Bo Porter said. "He has been a starter and a long reliever. He's got a really good changeup and he's another guy to add to the mix in that long relief bullpen role."
Royals: Mendoza gets the call
• Mendoza only lasted 4 1/3 innings against the Twins in his last start on Tuesday. He yielded three runs on seven hits and threw 95 pitches. The outing snapped a string of five consecutive quality starts for the right-hander. Still, over his last six starts, Mendoza has submitted a 3.55 ERA.
• Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday after Miguel Tejada started in his place each of the last two days.
• Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes departed Saturday's affair with tightness in his left hamstring.