With the two teams ahead of them in the wild card race set to square off this week, the Cleveland Indians are guaranteed to make up some ground as long as they win.
The Tribe look to take care of business on Monday evening when they begin a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
Cleveland waited out a rain delay of four-plus hours before securing a four- game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with Sunday's 7-1 win. That pulled the Indians to within a half-game of the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers, the two current holders of the AL's wild card spots.
The Rays and Rangers open a four-game set on Monday, meaning a victory tonight by the Indians would move them into the second extra playoff berth.
Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt Carson all homered in Sunday's win, with Swisher going deep from both sides of the plate. He tied Mark Teixeira's Major League record by homering from both sides of the plate for the 13th time in a single game.
Zack McAllister allowed a run over 6 2/3 innings to get the win, one that kept the Indians five games behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central.
"I just felt like I was pretty aggressive with my fastball for the most part," McAllister said. "I was able to locate it and keep them off balance a little bit."
The Royals are 3 1/2 games out of a wild card spot and return home following a 3-3 road trip. They lost the finale on Sunday, falling 3-2 to the Tigers.
Jeremy Guthrie absorbed the loss after pitching all eight innings for Kansas City, allowing three runs on 13 hits. He gave up a pair of homers to Alex Avila, including the go-ahead blast in the eighth inning.
Alex Gordon hit his 20th home run of the season in the losing effort.
"This one hurts," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said of the loss. "Especially coming back and tying it, they just answered."
Gordon also went deep the last time the Royals faced Scott Kazmir, who gets the start tonight for the Indians. Kazmir lost to the Royals last Wednesday, touched for four runs -- three earned -- on nine hits over four innings. He served up Gordon's longball to lead off the game.
"First-pitch fastball, low and away, felt like it was a good pitch and (Gordon) put a good swing on it. That type of stuff happens," Kazmir said.
The 29-year-old lefty was coming off six scoreless frames to beat the New York Mets on Sept. 6, striking out 12, but fell to 8-8 with a 4.24 earned run average in 26 starts this season.
James Shields picked up the win over Kazmir last Wednesday and tries to make it two in a row tonight.
Shields is 5-1 with a 3.45 ERA over his last seven outings, giving up three runs or fewer in all but one of those. He was drilled for 10 runs over 3 2/3 frames of a loss to the Tigers on Sept. 6, but held the Royals to a pair of runs over eight innings.
The 31-year-old turned in his longest outing since May 17 despite giving up both runs in the first inning on a two-run single by Michael Brantley.
"I made some good pitches in the first and they got two runs, but the team did a good job of getting me out to an early lead and tacking on some runs later in the game," said Shields, who is 11-9 with a 3.38 ERA this season.
Shields, a right-hander is 2-5 lifetime versus the Tribe with a 4.01 ERA in 13 games.
The Royals took two of three from the Indians last week but still trail the season series 9-7.
The Sports Network