Preview Cleveland at Kansas City
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals are about to find out how much magic they have left in the tank.
The Royals and Cleveland Indians battle for some key ground in the American League playoff race on Monday night, when they begin a three-game series following the conclusion of a suspended game from the end of last month.
Kansas City holds the second of two wild card spots in the AL, owning a 1 1/2- game lead over the Seattle Mariners. The Royals also are just 1 1/2 games behind Detroit for first place in the AL Central at the start of this season- ending seven-game road trip.
The Indians, meanwhile, are 3 1/2 games behind the Royals in the wild card race, but are in line to pick up some ground if they can hold on to their 4-2 lead in the suspended game. Cleveland scored a pair of runs in the top of the 10th inning on Lonnie Chisenhall's two-out double, then Roberto Perez struck out to end the Aug. 31 contest before rain suspended the contest.
Should Cleveland pick up the victory, it would be its fourth in a row over Kansas City and give it a 9-7 edge in the season series.
The Royals, meanwhile, will try to rally for the win and keep the momentum going from Sunday's 5-2 triumph over the Tigers. That victory salvaged the finale of a three-game set between the rivals and kept the race for the division crown a tight one.
"I don't want them caught up to the point where it affects their game, but you got to be caught up in the moment. This is great fun," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost.
Yost will hope to get a boost in the official opener of this series with the return of Danny Duffy, who has been out of action since leaving a Sept. 6 start versus the New York Yankees after just one pitch due to a shoulder injury.
Duffy, who is 8-11 on the year with an excellent 2.42 earned run average, threw a four-inning simulated game last Tuesday with no issues.
"It went well," Duffy told Kansas City's website. "I tried to make it as much like a game situation as I could. I felt normal. I felt better than normal, so I'm very happy with the way it went."
Duffy actually started the suspended game on Aug. 31, giving up one earned run over 6 2/3 innings. The lefty is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA lifetime versus the Indians.
Carlos Carrasco gets the call for the Tribe and has gone 5-1 over eight starts with a 1.17 ERA and 59 strikeouts over 54 innings since rejoining the rotation. He is 8-5 with a save and 2.65 ERA in 38 total appearances on the year, including 12 starts.
The righty threw the first shutout of his career on Wednesday at Houston, a two-hitter in which he walked just one and struck out 12.
"He just pitched with so much confidence and attacked the entire night," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Carrasco, who is 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA in his career versus the Royals in 11 games with six starts.
Carrasco will follow Corey Kluber's latest gem, with the Cy Young hopeful having struck out 14 batters over eight innings in a 7-2 win over Minnesota on Sunday. It gave Kluber his 17th win of the season and upped his strikeout total to a major league-leading 258.
"When the year's over, that's stuff that you'll take a second to look at and appreciate," said Kluber of his accomplishments. "But right now, it's not important. The important thing right now is that we got the win. That's what we need to keep going."
Cleveland has won five of its last six overall.