The Cleveland Indians have put themselves in the hunt for a postseason spot with a healthy start to September. They hope to keep the momentum going Tuesday in the middle test of a three-game series versus the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field.
Six wins in eight games this month have pushed the Indians 1 1/2 games off one of the two wild card spots and 4 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the American League Central lead.
Pitching has been at the forefront of Cleveland's recent resurgence and continued in Monday's 4-3 win over the Royals behind a strong showing by Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez struck out 10 batters, walked none and gave up an unearned run in seven innings. Jimenez impressed Kansas City manager Ned Yost.
"His slider was really good," Yost said. "He was tough today."
Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera and Yan Gomes all homered for the Indians, who needed an official review on Santana's homer in the seventh inning. Santana's shot down the right-field line was originally declared a foul ball until replays showed the ball hit the foul pole.
"I knew it was gone," Santana said. "I saw it as I was running up the line. I know the umpires had a hard time seeing it, but when they went to look at the replay, I knew it was a home run."
Cleveland is 15-9-1 over the last 25 series played dating back to June 10.
Zach McAllister looks to follow in Jimenez's footsteps when he takes the mound Tuesday for the Tribe. McAllister is 3-1 in his last four decisions and did not factor in the outcome of a 6-4 win over Baltimore on Wednesday, as he gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
McAllister is 7-8 in 20 starts with a 3.97 earned run average and the right- hander has faced the Royals twice in his career, going 1-1 with a 4.97 ERA.
Kansas City was cooled off on Monday and had won 11 of 15 games. The club now sits four games off one of the two wild card spots and was hoping Ervin Santana would have better success in his recent start.
Santana allowed four runs (3 earned) in seven innings against the Indians and was taken deep three times.
"It was a tough loss," Yost said. "We had some opportunities to pick up some runs, but this isn't a time to feel snakebitten."
Alex Gordon was one of four Royals with multiple hits and also homered, belting a two-run shot in the eighth inning to make it a 4-3 game.
Jeremy Guthrie will try to even this series for the Royals when he takes the hill Tuesday. Guthrie has posted back-to-back no-decisions in which he's given up six runs in 13 innings of work. He is 5-3 in his last eight decisions and 13-10 with a 4.19 ERA in 29 starts.
Guthrie, a right-hander, has faced the Indians nine times (7 starts) in his career and is 3-3 with a 5.83 ERA.
The Indians have won nine of 14 meetings with the Royals this season.