Throughout the 2013 season, Jacob Turner and Ervin Santana have established themselves as two of baseball's more reliable pitchers.
That's exactly what made their struggles last Friday so baffling.
When the Marlins and Royals meet for the rubber match of their three-game set at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, Turner and Santana are hoping to get back on track for their respective clubs.
For Santana, the game carries a bit of added significance as the Royals continue to creep their way up the Wild Card standings. Kansas City is 19-6 since the All-Star break, and doing so has them four games out of the second Wild Card slot.
Much of the Royals' success can be attributed to their pitching staff, for which Santana has been a key contributor. The 3.52 team ERA is the lowest in the American League.
But in his most recent outing against Boston on Friday, Santana (8-6, 3.25 ERA) struggled. He allowed six runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 frames -- marking just the second time this season he didn't last at least six innings.
Turner, meanwhile, was done in by the long ball in his last start. He allowed three homers total in his his first 12 outings this season, but he surrendered three in his unlucky 13th on Friday against the Braves.
"For myself personally, things aren't clicking as smoothly as I'd like," Turner said after the loss -- his third straight. "It's something we've got to work on and get back to where we are clicking."
The 22-year-old right-hander could be suffering from a bit of fatigue, as he's seen his ERA rise in every start he's made since the end of June.
Turner likely won't have to deal with Mike Moustakas, who was diagnosed with a left calf strain. The Royals third baseman sustained the injury while running the bases on Monday night.
"Yesterday, it was feeling all right with the adrenaline, but today it was a little sore," Moustakas said before Tuesday's 1-0 loss in 10 innings. "I went and got a lot of treatment today, and it feels a lot better. I'm able to walk around on it and put some pressure on it."
The Royals have had some leg issues of late, as they placed Miguel Tejada on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a strained right calf.
Marlins: A homecoming of sorts for Jennings
• Miami reliever Dan Jennings has a host of friends and family in Kansas City for the three-game set. Jennings went to high school in Des Moines, Iowa, before attending the University of Nebraska.
"I had a miserable freshman year," Jennings said of his time with the Cornhuskers. "Then, I was absolutely miserable the first half of summer ball. I was ready to hang it up, but I was able to develop a breaking ball and throw a fastball with conviction."
Jennings' parents, in-laws and college friends are all in town for the series.
Royals: Perez back in action
• Kansas City's Salvador Perez was out of the starting lineup Tuesday, as manager Ned Yost opted to give his catcher a night off before a day game. Perez, who did enter the game in the 10th inning as a defensive replacement, will be back in the lineup on Wednesday.
"We're 14 days into a stretch where we play 44 games in 44 days," Yost said before Tuesday's contest. "With a day game coming tomorrow, give him a break where you can afford to give him a break."
Perez had missed a week with a low-grade concussion, but returned over the weekend and showed no ill effects.
• The Marlins' average of 5.64 runs per game against Kansas City is their second highest against any opponent. They average 5.71 runs per game against Baltimore.
• In 28 plate appearances against Santana, Juan Pierre is hitting . 240 with just one extra-base hit.
• The Royals hold the edge in the all-time series against the Marlins, 6-5.