HOU@KC: Yost gets tossed by the home-plate umpire

KANSAS CITY -- Manager Ned Yost chalked up his sixth-inning ejection from Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Astros as sheer frustration that simply boiled over. The root of that frustration, according to the Royals' manager, was a stalled offense.

"Our club revolves around the offense," Yost said. "When the offense isn't producing, it makes every phase of our game more difficult. The starting pitchers know that if they give up a run or two, they are probably in trouble. If the bullpen gives up a run, can we get that run back? So, you take away the freedom from the pitching staff to not worry about giving up a run or two."

Yost added that offensive woes can even affect the defense.

"Even though we've got a tremendous defense, when we're not hitting, their minds kind of gravitate to hitting more than it gravitates to defense," Yost said. "All of a sudden, you start to get a little more sloppy defensively. So, the task is to get this thing turned around offensively and get these guys to where they are feeling good about themselves. That changes the whole complexion of the way we play."

Whether Yost's ejection was a wake-up catalyst remains to be seen. The ejection came after a briefly heated conversation between Yost and home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley.

"I wasn't as frustrated with the umpiring as I was with the way we played that game," Yost said. "When I watched it on TV ... some of the pitches we were swinging at, some of the outs we were making ... it's not characteristic of who we are. Right now, we're an underperforming offense that has the capability of producing at a much higher level.

"Is there any doubt in my mind that we're going to be right in the middle of this at the end of the year? No, there's not. But you still want to get it going. There needs to be a little bit more of a sense of urgency, but not to the point where it takes them out of their game. They've got to learn that fine line and that balance."

Valencia plans on returning for series in Toronto

CWS@KC: Valencia's double scores a pair

KANSAS CITY -- Royals third baseman Danny Valencia, who has been sidelined since Saturday with a left hand sprain, is confident he'll be ready to play in the upcoming four-game series at Toronto.

"Absolutely," Valencia said. "No doubt about it."

Valencia will have an extensive workout Thursday at Rogers Centre and doesn't expect any complications.

"I feel a lot better than I did a couple of days ago," Valencia said. "There has definitely been progress. I don't have any of the pain I had before. I'm looking forward to getting back on the field."

Manager Ned Yost will monitor Valencia's workout before deciding how to fill out his lineup card in the four-game set.

"If his hand is fine, there's a big possibility that he'll play," Yost said. "I think -- and it's only what I think -- that he'll play in the Toronto series."

Yost takes opportunity to give Perez breather

HOU@KC: Hayes lifts his first homer of the season

KANSAS CITY -- When you have a catcher of Salvador Perez's caliber, there's a temptation to want to play him every day. But Royals manager Ned Yost is resisting that urge, knowing that he's going to need a relatively fresh Perez over the course of a long season. That's why Yost went with Brett Hayes behind the plate for Wednesday's series finale against Houston.

The fact that Hayes has worked well with left-hander Danny Duffy, the starter on Wednesday, factored into Yost's decision.

"It's a win-win," Yost said. "It's a day game after a night game. We're trying to find ways to give Sal some breaks, and Hayes has done a good job with Duffy."

Duffy struggled on the mound in the Royals' 9-3 loss Wednesday, allowing five earned runs over four-plus innings. Hayes broke out of an 0-for-27 hitless streak to start the season with a single in his second at-bat, then hit his first home run of the season, a solo blast in the seventh.

Lorenzo Cain also was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday, with Jarrod Dyson drawing a start in center field. Yost also tweaked the batting order for a struggling offense, with Alex Gordon hitting No. 3 and Eric Hosmer in the No. 5 slot. Shortstop Alcides Escobar moved up to No. 6 in the order.

Crown points

• Center fielder Bubba Starling of Class A Advanced Wilmington had a 15-game hitting streak snapped on Tuesday, when he went 0-for-4 with a sacrifice fly in the Blue Rocks' 6-0 victory over Carolina. Reigning Carolina League Player of the Week Hunter Dozier had two singles, an RBI and two runs scored.

• Justin Maxwell and Christian Colon each had three hits on Tuesday in Triple-A Omaha's 9-1 victory over Oklahoma City.