(SportsNetwork.com) - Since starting the second half of the season on a four- game slide, the Kansas City Royals appear to be back on track. Today the squad aims to extend a win streak to six games and sweep the Cleveland Indians in a four-game set at Kauffman Stadium.
Despite being only three games over .500 at the moment, the Royals are in sole possession of second place in the American League Central, just five games off the pace set by the Detroit Tigers. On Saturday Kansas City fell behind by a 5-0 score in the second inning, but held the Indians scoreless from there, en route to a 7-5 triumph.
"We're down 5-0, but it's early and the guys still believed that they could get back into the game, and they darn sure did," manager Ned Yost noted.
Even though he surrendered all five runs, starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie still came away with the win, his sixth of the season. Guthrie scattered 10 hits and walked two, while striking out four, over the course of 5 2/3 innings. Greg Holland came on for his 27th save, fanning a pair in the ninth, but still it was the KC starter who was earning all the praise.
"Jeremy Guthrie came out and did a phenomenal job in the third, fourth, fifth, and even after we got the lead to get two outs in the sixth, which was huge with the way that our bullpen has been going," Yost said.
Norichika Aoki and Billy Butler both had a pair of hits and two RBI, the latter connecting on his fifth home run of the season. Alcides Escobar also had a couple of hits and scored twice for the home team.
Carlos Santana went deep for Cleveland, but his 18th home run of the season still wasn't enough to keep the Tribe out of the loss column for the fourth straight game and sixth time in the last seven outings. Jason Kipnis accounted for two RBI, but the Indians hurt themselves by leaving 19 runners on base in the meeting.
Cleveland starter Zach McAllister was dealt the loss as he gave up six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits and two walks through four innings. The Indians, who are an impressive 29-19 at home, are just 22-34 on the road and are now third in the AL Central standings as a result.
Stepping to the hill for the Tribe this afternoon is second-year man Danny Salazar. The right-hander has won two of his last three decisions, including a positive outcome versus Minnesota on the road earlier in the week.
Against the Twins, Salazar surrendered just a single run on six hits and three walks through five innings. The hurler also fanned six batters as he lowered his lofty ERA to 5.12.
Sporting a record of 0-2 and an ERA of 6.97 in his two previous encounters with the Royals, Salazar's most recent battle against KC hitters came on April 22 when he was charged with four earned runs on seven hits in a mere 4 1/3 innings.
While Salazar is still getting his feet wet in the majors, Bruce Chen is a seasoned left-hander who has been clashing with top-notch hitters since signing as an undrafted free agent with Atlanta back in the late 1990s.
Chen, who is 7-4 with a 4.55 ERA in 21 games (13 starts) all-time versus Cleveland, is coming off his second win of 2014 on Tuesday when he made it through five innings versus the Chicago White Sox on the road. The aging hurler allowed five hits and one run, as well as a couple of walks and two strikeouts.