Indians set for crucial series against Kansas City

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches during the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. 

Tim Fuller/Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

If the Indians are hoping to keep Detroit in their sights in the AL Central, this weekend’s four-game series against Kansas City is crucial.

The Tribe and Royals are both within seven games of the Tigers but could make up some ground. The Tigers open a four-game series in Anaheim against the Angels.

Since getting within 4 1/2 games of Detroit last Saturday, the Indians have dropped two games in the standings. They are 4-3 on the current 11-game road trip that has been comprised entirely of division rivals.

Cleveland is 4-3 against Kansas City but dropped both games last month at Kaufman Stadium. They took two of three from the Royals during a three-game set in Cleveland earlier this month.

Indians Live begins on SportsTime Ohio at 7:30 p.m. Here are some other things to watch going into tonight’s game:

KLUBER MEETS FAMILIAR FOE: This is the fourth time that Corey Kluber (10-6, 2.95) will be facing the Royals this season and is 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA. The right-hander has allowed two or fewer runs in six of his last seven starts dating back to June 15 at Boston, which is the second-lowest ERA (2.20) among AL starters who have made at least seven starts over that stretch. He also enters fourth in the league in strikeouts with 152.

NEED TO KNOCK THEM IN: The Indians are 21 for 65 (.323) with runners in scoring position on the road trip. They are 17 for 45 in wins but just 4 for 20 in the three losses.

PICKING THEM OFF: Roberto Perez threw out both runners who attempted to steal off him on Wednesday in Minnesota. Indians catchers have thrown out 28 of 88. The 31.8 percentage is second in the American League and fifth in the Majors.

ROYALS STARTER: Danny Duffy (5-10, 2.66) faces Cleveland for the fifth time in his career. The left-hander took the loss on July 5 after allowing three runs on 10 hits over six innings as the Indians won 4-1. H is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA all-time against the Indians.

MOOSE IS LOOSE: Mike Moustakas is 10 for 29 with five home runs and 11 RBI against Cleveland this season. Ten of his 12 home runs have come against division opponents.

ROYALS VS. KLUBER; Eric Hosmer 4-25, 2 HR, 7 RBI; Alex Gordon 4-22, 2 HR, 5 RBI; Billy Butler 4-21, 2 RBI; Alcides Escobar 5-22; Mike Moustakas 7-18, HR, 2 RBI; Jarrod Dyston 6-17, RBI; Omar Infante 5-14, RBI; Salvador Perez 2-13, RBI; Lorenzo Cain 2-12, RBI; Raul Ibanez 0-7; Danny Valencia 0-5; Nori Aoki 0-4; Brett Hayes 0-3.

INDIANS VS. DUFFY: Ryan Raburn 3-11, HR, 2 RBI; Asdrubal Cabrera 4-9; Carlos Santana 3-10, HR, 2 RBI; Michael Brantley 4-7, RBI; Jason Kipnis 2-7, HR, RBI; Mike Aviles 2-5; Nick Swisher 3-5; Yan Gomes 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Lonnie Chisenhall 0-3; David Murphy 0-3.

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