Indians try to keep first place from Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The roles have been reversed.
On June 1, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to complete a 6-0 homestand and moved into first place in the American League Central.
The Royals then began an 11-day trip with the first four games in Cleveland. The Royals failed to hold a ninth-inning lead in the first contest and dropped a 5-4 decision to begin a season-worst eight-game losing streak.
After completing a sweep in Cleveland, the Indians took over first place in the division. Cleveland outscored the Royals by a 27-6 margin in the four games, limiting them to two runs over the final three games. The Royals went from two games up to trailing the Indians by three.
The two clubs meet in a rematch beginning with a three-game series Monday at Kauffman Stadium. The Indians have won six of seven against the Royals this year, but all the games have been played in Cleveland.
While the Royals are 19-7 at home, they are an abominable 10 games below .500 at 13-23 on the road.
Right-handers Carlos Carrasco for the Indians and Edinson Volquez for the Royals will start the series opener. Volquez started the season 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his first four starts, but has struggled lately. Volquez is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in two June starts and is 2-4 with a 5.27 ERA in his past seven.
Lonnie Chisenhall, who is .417 with a double and triple in 12 at-bats, and Jason Kipnis (.353) have hit well against Volquez. Carlos Santana has only three hits in 15 at-bats off Volquez, but two are home runs. Santana homered twice Sunday in the Indians' 8-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Carrasco has allowed seven earned runs and 14 hits in 11 2/3 innings in his past two starts. He yielded three runs on nine hits in five innings in his previous outing against the Royals, his initial start after coming off the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Lorenzo Cain (.364, 8-for-22) and Eric Hosmer (.316, 6-for-19 with three RBIs) have hit Carrasco well.
The Indians could be without third baseman Jose Uribe, who was carted off the field in the fourth inning Sunday against the Angels. Mike Trout's smash grounder hit Uribe in the groin area. He was diagnosed with a testicular contusion after remaining on the ground in pain for a while.
The Royals, who won the final two games of the road trip at Chicago, are tied with the Detroit Tigers with a 30-22 record for second in the division. The White Sox are 4 1/2 games back.
"It's going to be a dogfight to the end," Royals manager Ned Yost.
Indians manager Terry Francona rested Kipnis on Sunday and Francisco Lindor on Saturday, trying to keep both fresh for the key series in Kansas City, where temperatures are forecasted in high ranges of 92 to 101 the next three days.
"We've got night games in Kansas City, which is great," Francona told MLB.com. "It's still going to be hot. I'm just trying to give a guy a day off before he's fried. We're trying to kind of space it out with the guys playing every day."