Three keys to victory against the Kansas City Royals for the Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians have hit a mini stride recently with back-to-back series wins against fierce division rivals. Last week they salvaged a disappointing homestand by taking two out of three from the reigning American League Central champions Minnesota Twins. Yesterday, the Tribe claimed a series win on the road against a Chicago White Sox team that was leading the league in runs, team batting average, while pitching extremely well heading into contest.
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It will come as no surprise that stellar Cleveland pitching performances did much to earn those two victories in Chicago. However, the Indians hitters can give themselves a deserved pat on the back, if only a modest one. In game one, the lineup took advantage of the few opportunities they created by going 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position, including a two-run single by José Ramírez, which helped edge out Chicago 5-3. Then, on Sunday, they sent five runs across the plate, collecting nine hits, as the Indians shutout the Sox 5-0.
Following the recent success against division foes, the Tribe have now closed the gap on the White Sox to one and a half games, and sit just three games back of the division-leading Kansas City Royals. And it is those same Royals that Terry Francona and the squad turn their attention to on Monday night.
The Royals have burst out of the block in surprising fashion this year. They were not tabbed as a likely candidate to claim the AL Central crown in 2021. Most experts put their eggs in the safe baskets labelled ‘Chicago’ or ‘Minnesota’ during the preseason, for obvious reasons. Those same experts probably aren’t ready to abandon those picks just yet, but the division has certainly taken notice of how the Royals have played in the early going.
Kansas City is currently sixth in the AL in runs scored, and have been particularly skilled at hitting with runners in scoring position, making them very dangerous. The pitching, while not great, has done enough to keep the Royals in games and allow the hitters to outscore opponents en route to a 16-10 record.
With all this in mind, here are three ways the Indians can make it three series wins in a row against division opponents.