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Preview: Royals at Indians
GAME: Kansas City Royals (85-60) at Cleveland Indians (72-72)
DATE/TIME: Thursday, September 17 – 7:10 PM EST
WHERE: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio
LINE: N/A TOTAL: N/A
Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber will come off the disabled list Thursday and try to keep the Cleveland Indians’ postseason drive alive in the finale of a four-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals. The Indians have won 14 of their last 20 to close within four games of Houston for the second AL wild card.
Kluber has been sidelined since Aug. 29 with a strained hamstring and did not receive clearance to make his fifth start against Kansas City this season until Tuesday. He was hit hard in losing his first three decisions to the Royals before tossing a complete game against them on July 29. Cleveland rookie Francisco Lindor is 6-for-11 in the series with a homer, triple, double and six RBIs. Kansas City has dropped nine of its last 12 but still owns a healthy lead atop the AL Central.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Yordano Ventura (11-8, 4.42 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (8-13, 3.41)
Ventura capped an eight-start unbeaten streak with a pair of overpowering performances in which he allowed one run and struck out 22, but he has struggled in his last two turns. After giving up four runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings of a loss to Minnesota, he won at Baltimore last time out despite giving up the same numbers in 5 2/3 frames. He suffered his lone loss versus Cleveland on April 29, when he surrendered five runs in 5 1/3 frames.
Kluber was 0-1 in three starts before going on the disabled list, surrendering six home runs to offset 26 strikeouts over 19 2/3 innings. He was dominant in his two starts prior to the mini-drought, throwing a pair of complete games in which he permitted a total of two runs and four hits. Kluber must be wary of Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas, who is 16-for-35 against him, and Eric Hosmer (10-for-37, three homers, 12 RBIs).
1. Lindor, who has hit safely in five straight games, has lifted his batting average nearly 100 points (.223 to .317) since the All-Star break.
2. Moustakas is one home run and one RBI from matching his career highs of 20 and 73 set in 2012.
3. Indians 3B Mike Aviles is 7-for-16 with five runs scored in his last five games.
PREDICTION: Indians 4, Royals 3