KANSAS CITY -- Luke Hochevar's seven-inning outing in the Royals' 2-1 loss to the Twins on Friday made it two games in a row in which Kansas City starters made it to the seventh.
Manager Ned Yost said this is good news for his bullpen, which was utilized early and often earlier in the week during the Mariners series. Three Royals starters went a total of 8 1/3 innings in the first three games against Seattle.
Will Smith and Hochevar -- who pitched 6 1/3 innings and seven innings, respectively, in the previous two games before Saturday -- have helped out the bullpen a lot, according to Yost.
"It's given guys a chance to take a bit of a breather," Yost said. "We've been going on a two day on, one day off routine. It's hard to maintain that when you're a bullpen guy. You'd like to have a little more balance and a little more rest down there. Anytime you find six outs compared to 12 outs, it helps.
"It was huge to get two longer outings out of those two guys the last couple nights because our 'pen, it starts to get overloaded, the workload gets overloaded and then wear down. And they're not going to be near as effective as you need them to be."
Guthrie excited to be part of Royals' rotation
KANSAS CITY -- Newly acquired right-hander Jeremy Guthrie reported to the Royals on Saturday prepared to make his debut in Sunday's game against the Twins.
"It's a great opportunity," said Guthrie, who came to the Royals in a trade for Jonathan Sanchez on Friday. "It's a place where if I could choose a place to be, this would certainly be at the top of the list. Great young team with all the potential in the world, and I'm happy to be a part of it."
In a corresponding roster move, the Royals optioned left-handed reliever Francisley Bueno to Triple-A Omaha. Bueno appeared just once since being recalled on Wednesday -- going 2 2/3 innings in Thursday's game against Seattle, allowing one run and striking out one.
Guthrie couldn't ask for a better first assignment then the Twins, who he's had success against throughout his career. He's 4-1 in eight games (six starts) with a 2.70 ERA against Minnesota. Match that with a return to the American League, and familiarity is a big plus for Guthrie.
"You get a chance to pitch a lot against teams from different divisions when you're in the league for five years, like I was with Baltimore," Guthrie said. "[The Twins have] familiar hitters, and we'll go out there and see what we can do."
There's also something else Guthrie's looking forward to.
"I like the powder blue tops," Guthrie said of the Royals' home uniforms normally worn during day games at Kauffman Stadium. "That's a nice way to start. I'm excited about that."
Just in case Royals fans weren't yet on board with the team's new pitcher, Guthrie made a Twitter proclamation sure to win them over, telling general manager Dayton Moore that he would've selected Billy Butler to participate in the Home Run Derby.
"I'm just being honest," Guthrie said. "I'd choose Billy Butler, big home run hitter, Country Breakfast [Butler's nickname]. I would've chosen him.
"Did the fans want that or something? They did? I guess we're thinking along the same lines then," Guthrie said wryly.
Gordon hits comfort zone in leadoff role
KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost always says he goes day by day when putting together his batting order before each game. But one near-permanent fixture has been Alex Gordon in the leadoff spot, and he's settled into quite the comfort zone.
Since assuming the No. 1 spot on May 27, Gordon has been one of the better offensive players in the American League. In 47 games entering Saturday, Gordon batted .346 with 15 RBIs and a .422 on-base percentage, good for sixth in the league over that span. He also hit 20 doubles and three triples, while drawing 25 walks and scoring 30 runs.
"Anytime you're in a certain spot and you're stuck there for a while, you kind of get comfortable. That's just kind of how it's been lately," Gordon said. "I've been in the leadoff spot for a while, and every day I show up to the park I know where I'm going to be. It's nice to have that and nice to get that consistency."
His 31 doubles entering Saturday led the AL and ranked second in the Majors. Gordon had a nine-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-5 performance in Friday's 2-1 loss to the Twins.
"Gordon's done a great job in that one-spot, getting on base. I think he's a guy [who] could be a total offensive performer, where he can hit homers, drive in runs," Yost said. "I don't really, long term, see him as a No. 1 type guy. I think he's more middle-of-the-order type guy. But right now, with our circumstances, he fits really well there."
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.