The Royals had a big opportunity to build on their AL Central lead with the Rangers --- owners of baseball's worst record --- coming to Kauffman Stadium for a three-game set. So far, it's gone just as planned for Kansas City, except for Detroit matching it with each win.
Wednesday, the Royals will look to complete a sweep of Texas after picking up a 2-1 victory Tuesday. Jason Vargas will get the ball for Kansas City against Nick Tepesch of the Rangers.
The Tigers also have taken the first two games of their four-game series with the Indians and are just a half-game behind the Royals. Cleveland has fallen 5 1/2 games back of Kansas City.
Vargas has lost two straight decisions after winning back-to-back games in which he'd given up a total of just one run in 16 innings.
He faced the Rangers just 10 days ago at Arlington, giving up three runs, 11 hits and four walks in six innings.
"I wish it could've worked out better, but they were getting hits that were falling in and putting those runs on the board those first three innings," Vargas said.
Wednesday will be a homecoming of sorts for Tepesch. He was born in Kansas City and grew up just outside the city. He attended the University of Missouri.
Tepesch has a 4.44 ERA, 1.38 K/BB ratio and 1.35 WHIP on the season. He's gone at least six innings in 11-of-17 starts, surrendering more than four runs three times.
He allowed six runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 23 against the Royals, but cruised through the first four innings. He walked three batters.
"I couldn't find it. It was one of those bad innings I guess," Tepesch said. "I felt like I was a little all over the place all night. I think that inning was the worst of it obviously. But I was constantly trying to find my lanes and that inning, it was just one of those things where I really struggled to find it."
Royals: Willingham's back feeling better
Josh Willingham has been out for four days because of a pain in the middle of his back, but he's expected to be ready to play in the series finale Wednesday.
The outfielder-designated hitter has batted .267 in 15 games for the Royals since being obtained on Aug. 11 from Minnesota.
Manager Ned Yost said Willingham was available to pinch-hit Tuesday, but elected not to use him.
Rangers: MLB players-used record set
The Rangers set a Major League record Tuesday. It's not a glamorous one, but a record nonetheless.
Derek Holland became the 60th player to appear on the field in uniform for Texas when he started Tuesday. Three other teams have used 59 -- the 2002 Indians, and the 2002 and 2008 Padres.
"It all started with injuries, and then we had to start moving bodies around and then it started giving opportunities to players because of what's been happening to us," said manager Ron Washington, who took an optimistic approach.
"It just gave us an opportunity to see players in our organization that we may never [have] seen," he added. "You don't want to be in that situation, believe me, but I know a lot more players in our organization now than I did."
Reliever Michael Kirkman made it 61 players used when he entered in relief in the eighth.
• The Royals' absence from Central Division games will continue during a weekend series at New York. Then they'll go to Detroit to begin a stretch in which 16 of their last 20 games are within the Central. The exception is four games against Boston.
• The Rangers will use a six-man rotation with the addition of Holland, who made his season debut Tuesday. Colby Lewis started Monday and with an off-day this coming Monday, he'll go eight days between starts.
• After Tepesch starts Wednesday, Scott Baker will kick off a four-game set versus Seattle on Thursday in Arlington. Robbie Ross Jr. (Friday), Nick Martinez (Saturday) and Holland (Sunday) complete that set.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.