Ervin Santana could use a little help.
"He's been really good," Royals manager Ned Yost said of his right-hander. "I still think he's got the least amount of run support of anybody on our team."
Actually, Santana has received the least run support of any American League pitcher with at least eight starts this season, with teammate James Shields close behind. Santana is 0-4 over his last six starts, despite a 3.92 ERA. Last Sunday, he limited the Rangers' potent offense to one unearned run on three hits across seven innings, but departed with a no-decision before the Royals eventually lost, 3-1.
Fortunately for Santana, he'll likely have offensive support from Salvador Perez. The catcher is 4-for-13 since returning to the lineup after a brief stint on the bereavement list following the death of his grandmother. Yost moved Perez to the No. 3 hole in the order and the 23-year-old has thrived -- belting a two-run homer in the Royals' 4-2 win over the Astros on Friday.
"He brings a consistent approach," Yost said. "He's a contact guy with power. He puts the ball in play, he finds holes, he's just a spark to the offense with his energy in the dugout and his energy during the game."
Perez will try to make life difficult on Saturday for Erik Bedard, who will toe the rubber for Houston. The southpaw has flourished over his last five starts, during which he went 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA.
Last Monday, Bedard held the Angels to one run in seven innings.
"I was just throwing strikes, trying to get them off-balance and get some easy outs," Bedard said. "Got a couple of those and kept the pitch count down."
Astros: Altuve sidelined
Second baseman Jose Altuve was held out of the lineup on Friday because of a slight groin strain. He will be re-evaluated before Saturday's contest.
"I always lean on the side of caution, especially when you're talking lower extremity," manager Bo Porter said. "The last thing you want is for something to be mild and then you get into a game and it becomes something that lingers for a long period of time."
Royals: Hurlers on road to recovery
Right-hander Felipe Paulino said he plans to start his Minor League rehab assignment on Tuesday, when he's slated to pitch for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Paulino was in the Royals' clubhouse on Friday night, arriving from Surprise, Ariz., where he's been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent last July.
"I'm throwing everything now, all four pitches, and my elbow is feeling good," Paulino said. "I threw 75 pitches in a game [Thursday] in Arizona. I'm 100 percent. I'm going to be the same guy I was before the surgery."
Paulino and fellow starter Danny Duffy were both stopped by elbow ailments and underwent surgery during the season last year. Duffy made three rehab starts with Northwest Arkansas and moved on to Triple-A Omaha.
• Miguel Tejada is expected to start at third base for Kansas City in place of Mike Moustakas for the second straight game on Saturday. Moustakas is batting .180 this season.
• With Friday's loss, the Astros dropped consecutive games for the first time since May 25-26.