Once the calendar flipped to June, the Royals transformed into the hottest team in baseball. They haven't allowed more than three runs in a game this month, resulting in a 10-3 record after Friday's 7-2 win against the Rays.
Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie will try to keep Kansas City sizzling when he faces off against Alex Cobb on Saturday. The Royals are 4-0 overall against the Rays this season after winning the first two in this four-game set at Tropicana Field.
Since June 1, the Royals have a Major League-best 1.53 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .303 slugging percentage. Guthrie has allowed only five runs in his last 18 1/3 innings.
"Pitching has been keeping us in the ballgame the whole time," outfielder Alex Gordon said. "That puts no pressure on the offense at all."
Meanwhile, Rays manager Joe Maddon challenged his starting pitchers to do better. Over the last six games, the team's starers have combined for a 9.29 ERA. Tampa Bay's starters have also accumulated 18 starts in which the group has allowed five runs or more -- its total for the entire 2012 season.
"We know as starters, we need to step up and go deeper," Cobb said. "Take some of the burden off the bullpen. Although they've been pitching excellent for us and keeping us in ballgames. But we don't want to rely on that."
In his last start, Cobb allowed the first eight hitters to reach base, putting the team in a 6-0 deficit in the first inning before tossing three scoreless innings.
"That whole game went by so fast," Cobb said. "It was such a blur. I really haven't had time to reflect on it. That first inning, I thought I was making quality pitches and they were hitting them."
Rays: Longoria dealing with plantar fasciitis
Evan Longoria started at designated hitter for the second consecutive game on Friday and might do so for the rest of the weekend with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
"Just a little plantar issue," Longoria said. "It's probably been bothering me for two weeks now."
Longoria said it's a new injury for him and thinks he will be able to heal quickly after Monday's off-day.
Royals: Yost returns to his post
Manager Ned Yost was back in the Royals' dugout on Friday after missing Thursday's game while attending his daughter Jenny's wedding in Georgia. However, he still couldn't keep his mind off the team.
"I watched it on the phone sitting there," he said while recalling Thursday's eight-run sixth inning that led to a 10-1 win. "I look and we got two -- good. Boom! Four, six, eight -- man!"
• The Royals signed four more selections from their First-Year Player Draft.
Third-round choice Carter Hope, a right-hander from The Woodlands, Texas, and fourth-round selection Zane Evans, a catcher from Georgia Tech, highlighted the signings.
• On April 30, Cobb gave up a season-high 10 hits against the Royals in an 8-2 loss. He also allowed four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings while striking out five.
• Longoria has dominated Guthrie in his career, hitting .306 against him with five doubles, a home run and nine RBIs.
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.