A September showdown between the Rangers and Royals with postseason implications for both clubs is a new experience for 2013, but both teams are clearly geared up for the tension these types of late-season games bring.
By winning the series opener in a game that was tight into the late innings on Friday night, Kansas City kept its hopes for a first postseason appearance since 1985 intact, dropping Texas out of its share of the American League Wild Card lead.
Kansas City (81-72) sits 2 1/2 back of Cleveland for the second spot, while Texas (83-70) is just a half-game back.
On Saturday, Matt Garza, the Rangers' pitching acquisition before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, will try to get the series even against Royals veteran Jeremy Guthrie in the second of three games that have Kauffman Stadium rocking.
While the Rangers have been in the postseason hunt the last few years, the Royals are new to the September stretch run. They don't seem to have a problem with the higher level of competition.
"These guys know what's at stake," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Their life, their energy, their excitement for the situation they're in, you don't need a message. They get it. They're ready to go."
The Royals recently went through a stretch of 44 games in 44 days, but Yost said they never lost their energy.
"When you're out of it and 15 or 20 games out of first place, you're tired. You're sore. You get in these situations and you're not," he said.
Garza, who had playoff experience before with the Rays, was brought over from the Cubs in July to give the Rangers' rotation a boost, but he has struggled of late. Garza is 0-4 with a 5.83 ERA in his last five starts.
"You just have to keep grinding and keep working, and get ready for your next start. You can't quit," Garza said.
Added Rangers manager Ron Washington: "I'm expecting him to come out of this. He's a quality pitcher, he can't keep going like this. He's not as bad as he's looked, we know that. He's due to throw a Garza-like game."
Guthrie doesn't have to go deep into Saturday's game to reach the 200-inning mark for the fourth time in five seasons, standing at 198 2/3 so far. He also has the chance to be the first Royals pitcher since Zack Greinke in 2009 with 10 or more home wins, entering the start at 9-4 at Kauffman Stadium this season.
In his last start, Guthrie gave up three runs on 13 hits in eight innings Sunday at Detroit.
Rangers: Beltre belts in K.C.
After going 1-for-4 in the opener, Adrian Beltre continued to have remarkable success in Kansas City. Among all batters with 150 or more plate appearance there, Beltre has the top batting average there at .371 (53-for-143) all-time. He has eight homers and 30 RBIs in 37 games at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals: Home cooking at Kauffman
The Royals' 2-1 win on Friday night was their 43rd of the season, their most since 1993, when they finished with 43. They've won 10 of their last 13 games at home.
• Entering Saturday's game, Greg Holland has 44 saves, one off the single-season franchise record held by Dan Quisenberry in 1983 and Jeff Montgomery in '93.
The season series is tied 2-2 with two games remaining. The Rangers won last year's series, 5-4.
• The Royals are 12-15 vs. the AL West, while the Rangers are 12-18 vs. the AL Central.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.