Royals ace Bruce Chen placed on DL with lat strain

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And just after Aaron suggested they start printing up playoff tickets.

Bruce Chen, who is 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA in seven starts to open the year, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a left lat strain.

Vin Mazzaro will be called up to start in his place Wednesday.

Chen has been a big success with his 10th major league team, going 16-8 since the beginning of 2010.  The Royals were 6-1 when he started this year, with Chen’s lone defeat coming at the hands of the Rangers.  He had one of his better starts last time in a 9-1 win over the Orioles.

Replacing him will be Mazzaro, who was all set to be the Kansas City’s fifth starter coming out of spring training.  The Royals sent him down at the end of March because they didn’t need a No. 5 during the first week of the season, but a funny thing happened in his Triple-A tuneup, as he walked seven and allowed five runs in 2 1/3 innings against Albuquerque.  The nightmare performance caused the Royals to bypass him and go to Sean O’Sullivan at the back of the rotation.

Mazzaro, though, has gotten batter lately.  Over his last three starts, he has a 3.00 ERA and a 20/3 K/BB ratio in 18 innings.  He’ll take on the Yankees on Wednesday and likely make at least one additional start before Chen return.