With six games left to play and the Royals three games back of the Indians for the second American League Wild Card spot, the team knows it has a lot of ground to make up. However, Kansas City isn't giving up hope.
The Royals will turn to veteran left-hander Bruce Chen on Tuesday in Seattle to get the job done. Chen has done well in his career against the Mariners, going 4-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 14 appearances (10 starts).
In his previous outing against the Indians, Chen allowed two runs on four hits in five innings of work for his eighth win of the season.
"Every game is a must win since we're behind and trying to catch up," said Chen.
Meanwhile, it will be 24-year-old rookie James Paxton on the hill for the Mariners in his fourth career start. He's just one of a few rookies, along with Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and Abraham Almonte, that manager Eric Wedge thinks fans should be excited about.
"I think that one thing we've had happen up here is these guys have been able to learn from each other, talking about the younger players," Wedge said. "When something happens with a young player, whether it be situational or maybe a mistake he made at home plate or in the field, whatever it may be, you can talk to three or four other ones about it so hopefully they don't have to go through that to learn from it."
Thanks to a fastball that hits 97 mph, Paxton is 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts. He took a no-decision in his last outing against the Tigers, allowing three runs on five hits in five innings of work.
"Today was definitely a battle," Paxton said after the start. "I didn't have my best stuff, and it was one of those games where I just had to grind it out. I just did my best to keep my team in the game and give them a chance."
Royals: Shields on target for start
• With his right elbow feeling better after getting hit with a batted ball, right-hander James Shields will make his final start of the regular season Friday against the White Sox.
"He's a little sore, a little bruised, he's fine," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It got him pretty good, though. But he was going to battle through that, no matter what."
Shields was drilled in his elbow by David Murphy's liner when he led off the Rangers' third inning on Sunday.
"I was initially worried because it sounded like you threw a ball against that wall," Yost said, pointing. "You could tell it hit bone."
Mariners: Miller welcomed back to lineup
• Brad Miller returned to the Mariners starting lineup on Monday for the first time since straining his left hamstring on Sept. 14.
He was penciled in as the team's leadoff hitter and everyday shortstop. The rookie finished the game going 0-for-4 with two walks and a run scored.
"I think it's always healthy to be able to watch a big league game," Wedge said. "He's a student of the game himself anyways. He's not someone that sits by and doesn't pay attention. He's going to watch and learn and give us a chance to talk a little bit from time to time."
• Chen needs wins in his final two starts to become the first Royal with double-digit victories in four straight years since Kevin Appier did it from 1990-1993.
• The Mariners have a club record 15 extra-inning losses this year. In all, they are 6-15 in extra-inning contests.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.