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Yankees vs. Royals preview: Big Mike plays the role of stopper

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are fresh off dropping three games to their closest AL East competition after a forgettable series at Tropicana Field, but they now turn to their de facto ace to stop the skid. Michael Pineda was all kinds of brilliant in his last start against the Orioles, fanning 16 and looking every bit like the ace the Yankees need him to be in Masahiro Tanaka's absence. He'll have another difficult assignment in containing the Royals' offense and halting the Yankees' losing streak at three games.

Like the Yankees, the Royals currently lead their division by one game. They've won six of their last ten games, coming off a series against the Texas Rangers. The Royals have played fairly well within the confines of Kauffman Stadium, but the Yankees have managed to play pretty well on the road to this point in the season with a 12-8 record away from Yankee Stadium. The other Chris Young gets the start for Kansas City, and he has been very tough to hit as of late. First baseman Eric Hosmer also enters the season red-hot with an eleven-game hitting streak to his name. New York's offense is going to need to find a way to show more life than it did in the Rays series if they hope to get back to their series winning ways against the Royals.

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