The Cleveland Indians are picking up steam on the back end of their 11-game road trip and target a series win over the Kansas City Royals Wednesday from Kauffman Stadium.
The Indians have won five in a row and took Tuesday's series opener, 6-5. Nick Swisher had three hits and both Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana finished with two RBI for the Indians, who are 7-2 on the trip and have won 15 of their last 20 contests.
Cleveland starter Corey Kluber gave up four runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings for Cleveland. Cody Allen retired the final batter of the sixth inning for the win and Chris Perez nailed down his eighth save in the ninth.
"The guys are swinging the bats unbelievably right now," Kluber said.
The AL Central-leading Indians are a half-game ahead of Detroit for the division lead and will start a 10-game homestand later this week.
Scott Kazmir has been sharp in his last two starts for the Tribe and gets the nod Wednesday. He has permitted only one earned run in his past 14 innings pitched and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of last Wednesday's 4-3 win at Baltimore. He ended up allowing one hit and one unearned run in the no-decision.
Kazmir, who is 4-4 in 13 starts to go along with a 4.83 earned run average, lost at Kansas City on April 27 and gave up two runs in five innings of a 3-2 setback. The left-hander has made 11 career starts against the Royals, going 3-3 with a 5.09 ERA. That mark could get worse since Kazmir is 0-4 in seven road assignments this season.
Kansas City has alternated wins and losses over its last nine games and opened a six-game homestand Tuesday. Unfortunately, the residency didn't start with a bang and Luis Mendoza yielded four runs in the first four innings and Tim Collins gave up the go-ahead runs (2) in relief.
"Its just a rough patch, I've got to go up there and do a better job throwing strikes," Collins said.
Alex Gordon hit a grand slam in the fifth inning for the Royals, as they dropped 5 1/2 games back of Cleveland in the AL Central.
Jeremy Guthrie looks to get back to his earlier dominant ways when he takes the mound for K.C. Wednesday. Guthrie has lost three straight starts and is only 2-6 in his past eight decisions. In last Thursday's 3-1 loss at Minnesota, Guthrie allowed three runs -- two earned -- in 6 1/3 innings to watch his record dip to 7-6 in 16 starts with a 4.11 ERA.
Guthrie, who was 5-0 at one point, beat the Indians with 6 2/3 shutout innings of a 9-0 triumph on April 28 and is 3-2 with a 5.45 ERA in seven career games (5 starts) against them.
The Tribe won two of three against the Royals when these teams met up in Cleveland from June 17-19.