The Cleveland Indians are very quietly keeping pace in the AL Central.
They’ll look to continue taking advantage of the hapless Kansas City Royals and gain some more ground in the division as they continue a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
Cleveland has gotten off to a strong second half this season, winning 11 of 16 games since the All-Star Break. The Indians have pulled within a half-game of the second-place Chicago White Sox—who are mired in a six-game losing streak—and trail the division-leading Minnesota Twins by four games.
Two more games with the struggling Royals could give the Indians an extra boost. Cleveland squandered a 5-0 lead, but came back to take the series opener 7-6 in 11 innings Friday.
“This game gives us the confidence to go out and be in the race,” said Rafael Betancourt, who pitched a perfect 10th and 11th inning for the win Friday. “It’s too early to talk about September, but it’s fun to be playing for a playoff spot now.”
Vizquel, hitless in his first five at-bats, extended his hitting streak to 12 games, and is batting .319 (15-for-47) during that span.
Ronnie Belliard continued his success against the Royals. He entered the series batting .357 (25-for-70) with 11 doubles and 16 RBIs in 18 career games against Kansas City. He went 3-for-5, scored a run and matched a career high with three doubles Friday.
Kansas City lost its season high-tying eighth in a row. However, they scored more runs Friday night than in their previous four games combined, when they managed just four.
“That’s just our luck right now,” said Kansas City’s Matt Stairs, who homered and drove in four runs Friday.