LAD@KC: Perez opens the scoring with a solo homer

KANSAS CITY -- There's nothing wrong with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. He just got a night off Wednesday against the Dodgers.

"He's played 15, 16 days in a row, and this just gives him a chance to take two days off and only miss one game," manager Ned Yost said.

The Royals have an off-day Thursday. Wednesday's was the first start for backup Brett Hayes since May 31.

Several Royals have Yost's All-Star vote

KC@DET: Cain robs J. Martinez of a home run

KANSAS CITY -- Ask manager Ned Yost which one of his Royals position players should be on the American League All-Star team, and he looks a bit perplexed.

"There's not just one," Yost said. "I would think that Salvador [Perez], I would think that Alex Gordon, I would think that Alcides Escobar, I would definitely think Lorenzo Cain deserves a shot."

That covers his catcher, left fielder, shortstop and center (sometimes right) fielder.

So far, however, the voting public has not put any Royals in contention, and time is growing short to stuff the ballot box.

Cain entered Wednesday night's game with a team-high .307 average along with a .348 on-base percentage and 31 RBIs in 53 games. Even better, his average with runners in scoring position was .369, ranking third in the AL. He then opened the series finale against the Dodgers with a leadoff home run.

An outstanding outfielder, Cain has five assists to tie for fifth among AL outfielders. His flying grab of J.D. Martinez's liner on June 16 at Detroit is symbolic of his highlight reel catches.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15, on FOX.

High expectations clear in Yost's evaluation

Ned Yost said that last year raised the confidence of this season's Royals.

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are due to reach the halfway point of their season, Game 81, on Sunday against the Angels.

So manager Ned Yost was asked before Wednesday night's game if his club had responded as well as expected in the first half.

"Not quite the way we wanted it," he said. "How many games are we behind? Three? We're three games over .500, and at this point last year we were probably still seven or eight under. So we've done a nice job there."

Actually, after 77 games last year, the Royals were a little better than that -- they had come back to within three games of the .500 mark and were 5 1/2 games out of first place. But it took them until their 102nd game to finally reach .500.

So this year they're already above that.

"I think our pitching has been dynamic. The defense has been good," Yost said. "Still a little bit inconsistent offensively, and I think that's going to turn around. I think we're going to be more consistent in the second half offensively. But three games out and three games over .500 -- we could be in better position, but we could be in a lot worse, too."

Yost feels confident his players are well prepared to handle the second half after last year's late chase for a playoff berth.

"I really do. I feel like the experience that they had last year ... when they went through it last year, I don't think that they knew that they could get out of it," he said. "This year they've been through it before, and they know they can get out of it. There's a lot more confidence this time now than there was this time last year."