The Indians (49-64) look for their eighth straight home win against the Royals (41-73) when the AL Central rivals open a four-game series on Friday at Jacobs Field.
Cleveland beat the Los Angeles Angels 14-2 on Thursday to win its first series since taking two of three from Cincinnati June 30-July 2. The Indians erupted for 17 hits, including three each from Jason Michaels and Shin-Soo Choo, who also had three RBIs.
Ryan Garko, who was called up from Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday, went 2-for-3 with his first career homer and a three-run double for Cleveland while Travis Hafner hit his career-high 34th home run and had three RBIs. The Indians have won just 10 of their last 31 games overall, but Garko is optimistic about their future.
“We’re not that far away from that team (last) September,” said Garko, of the Indians, who went 19-8 during that month last season. “There’s still a lot of games left. If we have a solid approach, a lot of positive things can happen.”
The Indians trail the season series with the Royals 5-4, but have won seven in a row against Kansas City at home by a combined score of 46-15.
Paul Byrd (7-6, 4.81 ERA) will try to improve on his recent play against Kansas City when he takes the mound for Cleveland. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in three starts versus the Royals this season and 1-3 with a 4.85 ERA in six career outings against his former club.
The 35-year-old right-hander had his best season in 2002 for the Royals, when he went 17-11 with a 3.90 ERA. Byrd allowed one earned run and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings on Saturday, but didn’t receive a decision in a 4-3 loss to Detroit.
He will look to stifle a Kansas City team that hit nine doubles and a homer in its 5-4 victory over Boston on Thursday, earning its first three-game sweep over the Red Sox since April 26-28, 1996.
“It’s strange,” third baseman Mark Teahen said. “But when you’re a team full of power hitters, that happens.”
Kansas City may struggle to continue that success as it begins an eight-game road trip, where it has gone just 15-40 this season. Adam Bernero (NR) will look to improve that mark when he makes his first start of the season for the Royals after going 5-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 16 games for Triple-A Omaha.
“We think he’s capable,” said Royals manager Buddy Bell, whose team needed another pitcher because of Saturday’s doubleheader with Cleveland. “Other than that, we don’t have a lot of options.”
The right-hander started one game for Philadelphia this season, allowing eight runs and seven hits over two innings in an 8-1 defeat to Toronto on June 30. He is 10-27 with a 6.07 ERA in 147 major league career games, including 35 starts.
Bernero is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in four career appearances versus the Indians.