Royals manager Ned Yost doesn't pay too much attention to the American League Central standings, but he knows his team is not far below .500.
"We're in good shape. We've got to get back to the .500 mark," Yost said. "If we could be five or six games over by the All-Star break, I think we're going to be in really good shape."
The Royals, who earned back-to-back wins over the Yankees following Sunday's 2-1 win, are aiming to win the four-game series on Monday night.
"We haven't by any means played our best baseball. That's still coming," Yost said. "And when we do, we're going to get on a nice run. I've been saying for the last couple of weeks."
Hoping to help kickstart those plans will be Monday's starter Jason Vargas (5-2, 3.28 ERA), who contributed eight solid innings against the Cardinals last Wednesday. The lefty allowed just two runs and two walks and has been a model of consistency for the Royals, giving up more than two earned runs in only three of his 13 starts this season.
After Monday night's finale, the Royals resume play against the AL Central for the next nine games against Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit.
The Yankees will head west to Seattle and Oakland, but they hope Monday's starter Vidal Nuno can send them off on a high note. Fortunately for him, he'll be pitching away from Yankee Stadium.
In seven career starts at home, Nuno is 0-3 with a 6.21 ERA. Away from Yankee Stadium, Vidal owns a 2.08 ERA in five career starts.
For Nuno, the reason is simple.
"It's just the ballpark probably, it's smaller at home" Nuno said.
There's evidence that backs Nuno's explanation. Only one of his five road starts came at a stadium that was not regarded as a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Nuno received a no-decision in his last outing against the A's on Wednesday. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out five.
"I felt in a groove the first few innings, it's just the last two innings leadoff hitters got on and that got me into trouble," Nuno said.
Nuno, a rookie lefty, has never faced the Royals.
Yankees: Teixeira to return in finale
Mark Teixeira will be penciled into the lineup on Monday, one day after manager Joe Girardi rested his first baseman. Teixeira entered as a pinch-hitter, grounding out to first in the ninth.
"It's just being proactive with it, he's played four or five days in a row here so we just thought we'd give him the day and then we'll have him back in there tomorrow," Girardi said.
Girardi said that the day off was not injury related.
"Just a day off, that's all it is. We're in the stretch of 17 in a row, so he's going to need a day somewhere."<
Teixeira entered Sunday with a .366 on-base percentage and a .466 slugging percentage in 42 games (175 plate appearances).
Royals: Infante slumping since return
Royals second baseman Omar Infante came off the disabled list on Memorial Day, but in the 13 games since, he's hit just .148 (8-for-54) with four RBIs, including a 1-for-3 day on Sunday that made him 1-for-21 on the homestand.
"He's struggling, but he's a guy that can get it turned around real quick and put some offense on the board," Yost said.
The problem doesn't seem to be the back inflammation that put Infante on the DL.
"I check with the trainers every day to see how he's doing. He feels good, he's just in one of those little slumps," Yost said.
• Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 13 games on Sunday with a third-inning double.
• Royals lefty reliever Francisley Bueno has two scoreless appearances since being activated from the disabled list a week ago. "He throws strikes and he's not scared," Yost said.
• The Royals evened their record at home to 16-16 with Sunday's 2-1 win. They started the season 8-3 at Kauffman Stadium.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.