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Preview: Royals (84-58) at Indians (70-71)
Venue: Progressive Field
Date: September 14, 2015 7:10 PM EDT
Much like the rest of the scuffling Kansas City Royals, Edinson Volquez is hoping to find a rhythm over the final three weeks before getting a shot in the postseason.
The right-hander believes he’s fixed a flaw in his mechanics and will try to help the Royals avoid their eighth loss in 10 games Monday night in the first of four against the Indians in Cleveland.
Kansas City has a comfortable 10-game lead in the AL Central as it seeks its first division title since winning the West in 1985. The club, however, hasn’t played well of late, scoring two runs or fewer five times over the last nine while their starters have posted a 6.53 ERA.
Volquez has alternated between good and bad outings over his past seven. He felt progress was made Tuesday when he gave up two runs over seven innings in a 4-2 home win over Minnesota.
“(Pitching coach Dave Eiland) fixed me,” he told MLB’s official website. “I hope to continue to do what I did and be consistent with that. I think my windup was too long.”
Volquez (13-7, 3.49 ERA) had been 1-2 with an 11.48 ERA in four starts versus Cleveland before overcoming five walks to allow three runs over six innings in a 9-4 road win July 27.
Carlos Santana homered off the right-hander in that contest. Michael Brantley is 4 for 5 lifetime in the matchup, while Lonnie Chisenhall has tripled and walked the two times he’s faced him.
The Indians have hit .270 and averaged 5.1 runs while winning 12 of 17, but they finished with just five hits in a 9-2 loss to visiting Detroit in the finale of Sunday’s doubleheader. They’re 4 1/2 games back of the AL’s second wild card and still need to jump over three other clubs.
“Wins are at a premium for us right now,” said Trevor Bauer, the losing pitcher in Game 2.
Jason Kipnis went 0 for 5 in the opener, leaving him with a .182 average over his last 25 games. The All-Star went 9 for 13 when Cleveland lost two of three at home to the Royals in late July.
The Indians are turning to Carlos Carrasco (12-10, 3.70), who will make his second start since coming off the disabled list due to shoulder inflammation. He yielded four runs and two homers while walking three over 2 2-3 innings in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss at the Chicago White Sox.
Despite the result, manager Terry Francona was encouraged by Carrasco’s velocity and movement.
“In the big picture, it’s really good,” Francona said.
Although he’s 0-3 with a 5.25 ERA in four home starts versus the Royals (84-58), Carrasco has posted a 2.57 mark in winning a pair of road meetings this season. Alex Rios (1 for 12), Alex Gordon (2 for 23), Mike Moustakas (2 for 13) and Salvador Perez (3 for 16) have struggled against him.
Eric Hosmer is 5 for 15 with a triple and two doubles versus Carrasco. He’s also batting .424 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 14 versus Cleveland (70-71).
Perez and Ben Zobrist had two hits apiece in Sunday’s 8-2 loss at Baltimore. Perez has gone 4 for 8 with two doubles in his last two and Zobrist is 7 for 18 over his last four.