Kansas City Royals (64-62 SU, 62-64 RL, 59-61-6 O/U) vs. Cleveland Indians (70-56 SU, 56-70 RL, 47-69-10 O/U)
MLB: Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 7:15 p.m. EST
The Line: Cleveland -150/Kansas City +140. Total: 9.5
The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals will continue a three-game series when they square off at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Saturday night. Kansas City had won three of its last four contests heading into the series opener on Friday. The Indians took two of three on the road against the Royals last weekend before splitting four with Boston.
The Royals are trying to close the gap in the American League Central as they visit Cleveland for this crucial series. They trail the Indians by six games but stand just one game behind two other teams in the battle for the AL’s second wild-card spot. Eric Hosmer is 7-for-15 over his last four contests, including a game-winning three-run homer in Wednesday’s 6-4 victory over Colorado. Third baseman Mike Moustakas (knee) was limited to pinch-hitting duties on Thursday and may serve as the designated hitter for the start of–or all–of this series.
Right-hander Jason Hammel is taking the mound for Kansas City on Saturday. Hammel is 6-9 with a 4.73 ERA in 2017. The 34-year-old has been more impressive of late and has allowed more than three runs only once in his last nine appearances. He has not given up more than four in any outing since July 1. Hammel most recently faced Cleveland last Sunday, when he went six innings and surrendered three runs on five hits and one walk in a 7-4 Royals’ triumph.
Unexpected uptick in offense
The Indians, who have been without four injured regulars, snapped out of an offensive funk at the expense of an unlikely opponent on Thursday. They abused Boston ace Chris Sale in a 13-6 victory. That earned Cleveland a split of its four-game set with the Red Sox. Rookie Yandy Diaz stepped up with three extra-base hits during a 4-for-4 performance, while Francisco Lindor is 7-for-20 with three homers and five RBIs in the past five games. First baseman Carlos Santana (back) has been sidelined for the past three contests.
Mike Clevinger will oppose Hammel on Saturday. The right-hander is a solid 6-5 with a 3.97 ERA through 19 appearances (16 starts) this season. Clevinger has struggled recently (his ERA was as low as 2.73 in late July), but he at least turned in a stellar outing on Aug. 12 at Tampa Bay–seven innings, no runs, four hits, one walk, and nine strikeouts in a 3-0 victory.
The Kansas City Royals are:
- 2-6 in their last eight road games against teams with winning home records
- 8-17 in Hammel’s last 25 starts
- 6-14 in their last 20 games against Cleveland
The Cleveland Indians are:
- 10-4 in their last 14 overall
- 15-6 in their last 21 home games
- 9-2 in their last 11 games against teams with winning records
Clevinger is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts against the Royals this year. He should get some support from the bats, too, because Cleveland’s offense has to be confidence following its surprising performance at Sale’s expense. Kansas City is 2-6 in its last eight on the road against opponents with winning home records, 8-17 in Hammel’s last 25 starts, and 3-7 in Hammel’s last 10 road starts. The Indians are 10-4 in their last 14 overall, 15-6 in their last 21 at home, 9-2 in their last 11 against winning opponents, 5-2 in Clevinger’s last seven starts, 14-6 in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, and 9-2 in their last 11 at home against the Royals. Look for those trends to continue.