The surging Cleveland Indians take on the Kansas City Royals Tuesday when the teams open a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium.
Corey Kluber gets the start for Cleveland, while Luis Mendoza toes the rubber for Kansas City. Both right-handers have pitched 75 2/3 innings on the season, and they both have identical 4.16 ERA's.
Kluber is taking the place of left-hander Scott Kazmir, who was given an extra day of rest because of back spasms.
"We'll give Kazmir the extra day," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He came through it really good. We just thought it made sense to give him the extra day. As long as 'Klub' is OK, which he is, it made sense to back him up."
After posting a 2.77 ERA in his previous eight starts, Kluber was tagged for seven runs (six earned) in 4 2/3 innings against the Orioles his last time out.
Meanwhile, Mendoza is coming off a no-decision against Atlanta on Wednesday despite allowing just two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He gave up five hits and a walk while striking out six.
"Phenomenal," Royals manager Ned Yost said of that effort. "He pitched great. He left the ballgame with a 3-0 lead and we ended up giving three runs. It's a shame he couldn't take advantage of that win, because he deserved it."
Kansas City claimed a 9-8 win over Minnesota on Sunday to record a four-game split. David Lough supplied most of the offense as he went 4-for-4 with three doubles and a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning. Eric Hosmer tacked on a solo homer in the ninth to seal the outcome, marking his third home run in the last three games.
"It was a great game, man," Yost said. "It's one of those games that keeps your heart pounding right from the get-go."
The Indians find themselves all alone atop the American League Central thanks to this weekend's four-game sweep over the White Sox in Chicago. They began that series with a 19-10 win on Friday in the first game of a doubleheader, and ended it with a 4-0 win in Sunday's series finale.
Justin Masterson was masterful in the latter victory, as he allowed only six hits and a walk while fanning eight for his third shutout of the season.
Cleveland has won 10-of-13 overall and will now play 13 games in 13 days leading into the All-Star break.
The Tribe won two of three against the Royals when these teams met up in Cleveland from June 17-19. Kansas City began the day 4 1/2 games back in the AL Central standings.
The Sports Network