The Cleveland Indians have been thriving away from home recently after struggling on the road following the All-Star break, thanks in large part to a pitching staff that has stymied the opposition on a regular basis. The Indians hope to conclude a highly successful 11-game road trip by completing a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
Cleveland, which started the second half of the season by losing five of six against two of the worst teams in baseball (Oakland and San Francisco), improved to 8-2 on its current trek with Saturday’s 5-0 triumph over the Royals and has outscored the opposition 54-19 in the process. The rotation has posted a 1.61 ERA during the surge, and the Indians’ most recent victory was their third shutout during the road trip and American League-leading 12th of the year. Cleveland maintained its 6 1/2-game advantage over Minnesota in the AL Central while dropping Kansas City 7 1/2 back. The Royals, who have lost three of four, also fell 1 1/2 games behind the Twins and Los Angeles Angels for the second wild-card spot.
TV: 2:15 p.m. ET, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Danny Salazar (5-5, 3.92 ERA) vs. Royals RH Jason Hammel (5-9, 4.74)
Salazar was sharp in Tuesday’s victory at Minnesota, allowing fewer than three runs for the fifth straight start when he permitted one and three hits while registering 10 strikeouts over seven innings. The 27-year-old Dominican has been mostly dominant since returning from a stint on the disabled list due to a sore shoulder, going 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA with 46 strikeouts. Salazar has been far less effective in three appearances (two starts) versus the Royals in 2017, going 0-2 with a 4.63 ERA.
Hammel was fortunate to come away with a no-decision Tuesday at Oakland after giving up a season-high three home runs among the four runs and eight hits he allowed in six frames. The South Carolina native, who had yielded only three homers in his previous seven outings combined, has pitched into the sixth inning in 13 of his 14 turns since the start of June. Hammel won both of his previous starts versus the Indians this season, posting a 2.84 ERA and holding Cleveland to a .178 batting average.
1. Indians’ starters have held opponents to fewer than two runs in 10 of 12 and 13 of the club’s last 16 contests.
2. Kansas City is 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position over its last three games against Cleveland.
3. The Indians have won the last three meetings between the teams by a combined score of 23-1.
PREDICTION: Indians 6, Royals 1