Darvish on blistering strikeout pace

Road warriors: Baseball fans in Kansas City are giddy, and you can't blame them considering how well the Royals just played on one of the toughest trips imaginable. They went 4-3 on an 11-day jaunt through Atlanta, Boston and Detroit.

The trip included a game postponed for the Boston Marathon manhunt, another that was rained out and three scheduled off days. The Royals swept a doubleheader at Fenway Park and ended the trip with a victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park in a Justin Verlander-James Shields matchup.

"This is a phenomenal road trip for us," said Shields, who has set the tone for a greatly improved starting rotation. "I think in about August, we're going to look back at this road trip, and it's going to be a pretty crucial road trip. We did a great job of coming back in some games. We did a great job of grinding out some wins."

The Royals have won the last game in all seven of their series. Not sure what that means, but it sure beats losing all seven.

Limited impact: While the Phillies have gone 0-5 in Cole Hamels' starts, the Nationals have been only 1-4 with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. They have lost his last four, in large part because he has given up eight first-inning runs in those games.

"I was trying to throw the perfect pitch," Strasburg said. "I tell myself going into the game, 'Don't do that.' And I go out there and I do it."

Strasburg is allowing a .360 batting average in the first inning compared to a .186 average otherwise. Manager Davey Johnson says it's about getting the ball down and trusting his stuff. It's amazing to think that even a dominator like Strasburg has trouble doing that at times.

The heat's on: Mariners manager Eric Wedge let his team have it at the end of a 1-5 trip playing against the Rangers and Astros.

"I felt like there were some points in time where we didn't put up the types of at-bats you like to see," Wedge said. "I still feel good about a couple of these guys. I think they're headed in the right direction. That's the positives. … There are some good things to pull from this, but overall when you get beat like that, when you have a chance to win a series, it's just something we have to do a lot better with."

The Mariners have found two of their operating theories flawed. They expected to score more runs after adding Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez, and they thought they would benefit from a heavy diet of games against the lowly Astros, who moved from the NL Central to the AL West.

In their first 23 games, they were hitting .228 and barely averaging three runs. They lost four of their first six to Houston, scoring more than three runs only twice.

Wedge benched Brendan Ryan, going to .233 career hitter Robert Andino as his regular shortstop. The bigger question than how much difference this will make is how much time Mariners ownership will give general manager Jack Zduriencik and Wedge to get things turned around.

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