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OAK@NYY: Hughes strikes out nine in strong start

A new member of the Royals' rotation gets his first crack at an old American League East rival when Kansas City and Wade Davis host the Yankees this weekend.

Davis, who was drafted by and played his first four Major League seasons with the Rays, was dealt this past winter to Kansas City in a blockbuster deal that also included James Shields and sent top prospect Wil Myers to Tampa Bay.

Friday's series opener at Kauffman Stadium will be Davis' first start in a Royals uniform against a team from the AL East. The Yankees sat in a three-way tie for first place following their 3-1 win against the Rockies, Baltimore's loss to Kansas City and Boston's loss to Minnesota.

Davis was an even 12-12 against AL East teams as a Ray, and Friday, he will be challenged by one of the division's perennial contenders.

Phil Hughes will be on the mound for the Bronx Bombers, as he looks to build off his best start of the season. Hughes threw eight shutout innings against the A's, striking out nine while allowing just four hits.

"I feel like I'm kind of clicking right now with what I'm trying to do," said Hughes, who has a 1.93 ERA over his last four starts. "I feel like I'm executing pitches at a better rate than I did early on. As long as I can hit the glove and stay there, and maintain my velocity and strength late in the game, then I feel like I'll be pretty good."

The Yankees will be heading east from Colorado, after wrapping up a three-game series at Coors Field with their rain-delayed win Thursday. They will make stops in Kansas City (three games) and Cleveland (doubleheader May 13) before making their way back to New York.

But before the Yankees make the trip back, they have got this important series in Kansas City against another team with playoff aspirations.

"It's a little something different every time you play the Yankees, but baseball is baseball," Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "You've got to play everybody so you just take it as another game. So that's kind of how we think about it. It's just another baseball game; it doesn't matter who's on the other side of the line."

Yankees: Nothing slowing Mariano
While returning for the 2013 season after tearing his right ACL early in the 2012 season, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has been no worse for wear.

Rivera has converted all 13 of his save chances, making it the second-longest season-opening streak of his career. He saved his first 28 in 2008.

Rivera has saved five of the Yankees' last six wins, nine of their last 11 and 11 of their last 14.

Friday's game will take him back to the park where he was injured on May 3 of last year, shagging fly balls during batting practice.

"The only thing that will come back to me is just knowing that I got hurt there," Rivera said. "But I mean, I will enjoy it definitely because that moment and seeing where I am right now, that's what is gratifying. I'm thanking the Lord for me being here."

Royals: Good in tough situations
The Royals lead the Major Leagues in two-out hitting, with a .291 mark (102-for-350) in such situations. As a team, Kansas City has 59 two-out RBIs, which account for 47 percent of the team's 125 RBIs.

Kansas City is also one of only two clubs in the Majors hitting .300 with runners in scoring position. The Royals are batting .309 as a club entering, trailing only St. Louis' .330 mark.

Worth noting
• Kansas City makes a quick trip home for the three-game series, returning from Baltimore after a three-game set against the Orioles. After the weekend set against New York, the Royals will head to the West Coast to take on the Angels and A's and then to Houston to face the Astros.

• The Yankees are in a stretch (May 7-June 16) in which they will play 26 of 40 games on the road.

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