The Cleveland Indians will raise the American League Central championship flag Sunday before aiming for their 24th win in 25 games in the finale of a four-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals. The Indians clinched their second straight division crown Saturday with an 8-4 win over the Royals, who are four games behind Minnesota for the second AL Wild Card.
The Indians still have plenty for which to play for as they’re 1 1/2 games ahead of Houston for the best record in the AL. The Royals are running out of time to make a move in the wild-card race, having lost four of their last six. Danny Duffy returns to the rotation for the Royals in search of his first win over Cleveland since 2014. The Indians have beaten Duffy twice this season, and Carlos Santana (13-for-28, HR) has enjoyed success against him.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals LH Danny Duffy (8-8, 3.78 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (16-4, 2.44)
Duffy has not pitched since being cited for driving under the influence on Aug. 27 and is expected to be limited to 60-70 pitches in his first outing since Aug. 22. The 28-year-old won his last start, holding Colorado to one hit – a two-run homer – over six innings for his first win since July 25. Duffy is 2-5 with a 4.23 ERA in 14 games (10 starts) against the Indians.
Kluber struck out eight in a five-hit shutout of Detroit last time out, giving him wins in four straight starts and eight of his last nine. The 31-year-old ace is 13-2 with a 1.77 ERA in 20 starts since coming off the disabled list on July 1, and he has allowed more than two runs only four times during that stretch. Kluber is 8-6 with a 3.15 ERA in 19 starts against the Royals.
1. Indians 2B Jason Kipnis is expected to return from the disabled list on Sunday and has been preparing to play center field.
2. Royals 3B Mike Moustakas is batting .200 with 11 strikeouts in 20 games since injuring his right knee on Aug. 23 and remains tied with Steve Balboni for the franchise record with 36 home runs.
3. Cleveland SS Francisco Lindor has recorded an extra-base hit in a franchise-record 10 straight games and is 19-for-41 with four homers and 11 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak.
PREDICTION: Indians 6, Royals 2