ROYALS (27-51) AT INDIANS (42-35)
7:10 p.m. ET; ST-OH, FSKC, MLB.TV
The Cleveland Indians have recorded a three-game sweep in two of their past three series to improve to a season-best seven games over .500.
Winners of eight of their last 10 contests, the Indians aim to continue their good fortune on Monday when they open a three-game set against the visiting Kansas City Royals.
Cleveland’s offense received a jolt with the arrival of highly touted prospect Bobby Bradley, who belted an RBI double in his first major league at-bat to ignite a five-run second inning in Sunday’s 8-3 victory over Detroit.
“Unbelievable feeling; childhood dreams coming true. Something I’ve always worked for, something I’ve always wanted,” the 23-year-old Bradley said. “It’s still surreal to me.”
“You only have one first time,” Francona said, talking about Bradley. “I told him like I’ve told Oscar and all the other younger guys, ‘This is great. We love this. You’ve got to be open to listening.’ There were some things that happened today that are firsts and I’m confident he’ll be ready to listen and try to get better.”
Veteran Carlos Santana belted his club-best 17th homer — and third in four games — in the series finale. The 33-year-old has reached base in 18 consecutive games and 36 of his last 37. However, he went 1-for-7 in Kansas City when the Royals recorded a three-game sweep on April 12-14.
Jason Kipnis ripped a two-run single in the series finale to improve to 13-for-29 with 13 RBIs and seven runs scored in his past eight games.
Cleveland will aim to remain hot at the plate against struggling Kansas City left-hander Brad Keller (3-9, 4.45 ERA), who enters Monday’s outing with an 0-4 mark over his past five starts.
Keller surrendered two homers in the first inning and seven runs on nine hits over four innings of an 8-2 setback at Seattle on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old improved to 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) versus the Indians after yielding one run on three hits while striking out a career-high 10 batters in 6 2/3 innings of an 8-1 romp on April 12.
Kansas City is playing better of late with five wins in its past eight games.
Hunter Dozier belted a three-run homer to highlight a five-run third inning as the Royals salvaged a split of their four-game series against Minnesota with a 6-1 victory on Sunday.
Dozier tormented Cleveland in the previous series, registering two-hit performances in all three contests en route to finishing 6-for-11 with four runs scored. The 27-year-old is 1-for-3 against Monday starter Adam Plutko (3-1, 4.55).
Alex Gordon went 7-for-25 with eight RBIs in his past six games, including a trio of run-scoring doubles in the past two. The 35-year-old went 6-for-14 with three extra-base hits (two doubles, homer), three RBIs and two runs scored in the previous series versus the Indians, although he is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his career against Plutko.
“It’s a team-wide effort. We got to continue to stay focused. I feel like we’re playing pretty good baseball right now,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said.
Plutko allowed two earned runs for the third straight start on Wednesday before walking away with a no-decision at Texas.
The 27-year-old owns an 0-1 mark with a 6.75 ERA in two career appearances (one start) versus Kansas City. He has limited the current Royals’ roster to just 3-for-17 with six strikeouts.
–Field Level Media