After gaining ground in the playoff hunt, the Cleveland Indians are looking for more.
The Kansas City Royals, meanwhile, are hoping to avoid falling even farther behind.
The Indians go for a seventh straight home win over the Royals when these playoff hopefuls continue a three-game set Tuesday night.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana all homered and Cleveland (77-66) hung on for a 4-3 victory in Monday’s opener. Chris Perez got Alex Gordon to fly out with the bases loaded to end the game as the Indians climbed to within 1 1/2 games of Tampa Bay for the AL’s second wild-card spot and 4 1/2 of Central-leading Detroit.
“I had a stomachache. That’s about as nail baiting as you can get,” said manager Terry Francona, whose team has won five of six. “You try to be one run better. Tonight, I feel like we were a tenth of a run better.”
The Indians have surrendered just 16 runs during their six-game home winning streak against the Royals (75-69), who fell four games behind the Rays and are seven in back of the Tigers.
“This ain’t no time to feel snakebit,” manager Ned Yost said. “It was a good game and we battled to the end. Tough loss, though. This was a tough loss. We just couldn’t get it done.”
Gordon finished 2 for 5 with a two-run homer, the 100th of his career. Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Jarrod Dyson each added two hits, but Kansas City went 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
“This was a tough one, especially coming against a team that’s right in it with us,” said Gordon, hitting .326 with five homers, 15 RBIs and 17 runs in his last 20 games.
The Royals will try to get back on track against Indians starter Zach McAllister (7-8, 3.97 ERA). The right-hander has been knocked around following a career-high three-start winning streak, going 0-1 with a 9.72 ERA in his last two outings spanning 8 1-3 innings.
McAllister surrendered four runs in 4 2-3 innings Wednesday in a 6-4 win over Baltimore.
McAllister went 1-1 with a 4.97 ERA in two starts against the Royals last year. Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler are both 0 for 5 in their matchups, but Gordon is 2 for 6 with a homer and a double.
The Royals counter with Jeremy Guthrie (13-10, 4.19), who is 1-3 with a 5.11 ERA in his last six outings. The right-hander had allowed one run in each of his previous two starts covering a combined 12 innings before giving up five in six frames Thursday in a 7-6, 13-inning victory over Seattle.
Guthrie, 1-3 with a 6.60 ERA in his last five matchups against the Indians, has yielded five or six runs in all but one of those games. Nick Swisher and recently acquired Jason Kubel are a combined 22 for 62 with 14 extra-base hits – four homers – off Guthrie.
While Swisher is mired in a 5-for-26 slump (.192), two of those hits left the yard. Swisher is 7 for his last 45 (.156) with no homers and one RBI in his last 13 games against the Royals.
Santana, in contrast, is 19 for 47 (.404) with two homers, five doubles and 11 RBIs in the series this year.