Red-hot Indians head to Kansas City
JUN 10, 2014 9:47a ET
Lonnie Chisenhall may be the best player in baseball no one knows about, but he formally introduced himself Monday night.
In Monday's 17-7 win at Texas, Chisenhall became the first player to go 5 for 5 with three homers and nine RBIs since Major League Baseball began tracking RBIs in 1920. Finishing a triple short of a cycle, Chisenhall leads the majors since May 18 with a .421 batting average and 28 RBIs.
He's keyed Cleveland's current hot stretch, batting .474 with five homers and 22 RBIs in his last 10 games.
"He's attacking the ball right now, and he's swinging at the right pitches and he's learning about himself as a hitter," said Jason Kipnis, who drove in four runs Monday. "Right now, he's in one of those zones when he attacks and he's just not missing."
Chisenhall isn't the only Indian enjoying success lately. Cleveland (33-31) is batting .309 and averaging 6.5 runs while winning nine of 10 to pull within two games of AL Central-leading Detroit. Michael Brantley has scored 23 runs over the last 21 games and Kipnis is 10 for 30 in his last seven.
The Royals (31-32) likely would have preferred to avoid Monday's postponement to their series finale with the Yankees, as they've won five of seven while batting .371 with runners in scoring position. Before that stretch, they were third-to-last in the AL with a .241 average in those situations.
Alex Gordon has keyed that seven-game span with a 1.502 OPS and seven runs scored, while Salvador Perez has gone 10 for 26 with seven RBIs. Alcides Escobar is batting .407 during an eight-game hitting streak.
"When you're playing well, you don't like rainouts," manager Ned Yost said.
Corey Kluber (6-3, 3.23 ERA) looks for a repeat of his last matchup with Kansas City on April 24, when he became the first Cleveland pitcher since Len Barker's perfect game in 1981 to strike out 11 with no walks or earned runs in a complete game. Kluber allowed an unearned run and four hits in a 5-1 home victory while going the distance for the first time in his career.
Kluber had posted a 4.66 ERA in his five previous starts versus the Royals, though a number of their hitters have struggled against him. Gordon is 4 for 19 while Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer are each 2 for 18.
After going 4-0 in six starts last month with a 2.09 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 43 innings - the most strikeouts in May since Curt Schilling fanned 62 in 2002 - he wasn't nearly as dominant his last time out. Kluber allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings in Cleveland's 7-4 win over Boston on Wednesday.
"For the most part, it was just not being able to quite finish guys off," Kluber told the team's official website after totaling four strikeouts - his fewest in six weeks.
Jason Vargas (5-2, 3.28) will be tasked with trying to slow down Cleveland after he was initially slated to start Monday. He's yielded four runs in 20 1-3 innings in his last three outings.
The left-hander hasn't faced the Indians since April 18, 2012, when he limited them to a run and four hits over seven innings in a 4-1 win for Seattle. Vargas had given up 13 runs in his previous two matchups spanning 7 1-3 innings.
Asdrubal Cabrera is 6 for 12 off Vargas while Mike Moustakas is 6 for 15 off Kluber with three doubles.
The Indians took three of four from the Royals from April 21-24.