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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, July 26 (All times eastern)

Cleveland Indians (51-52) at Kansas City Royals (52-50), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Cleveland - Zach McAllister (3-5, 5.28) Kansas City - Jeremy Guthrie (5-9, 4.56)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals eye their fifth win in a row on Saturday as they host the Cleveland Indians in the third test of a four game series at Kauffman Stadium.

While the Tampa Bay Rays are hitting all the right marks during an eight-game win streak right now, the Royals have used their four-game run to ascend into second place in the American League Central Division, but they are still six games out of first, representing the largest difference between the top two spots across baseball.

Yesterday the Royals took advantage of home runs by Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler to capture a 6-4 victory versus visiting Cleveland. Perez accounted for three of the team's 10 hits and scored twice, while Raul Ibanez tallied a couple of hits as well, included the second triple of the season for the 42-year old.

"Billy's one of those guys that was born to hit, and he's always going to hit, and you never count guys like that out," Ibanez said of Butler. "You know that eventually he's going to get hot and do what he's capable of doing what he normally does."

Yordano Ventura made the start for the Royals on the hill, but he did not factor into the decision after permitting three earned runs on six hits, striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings. Instead, Kelvin Herrera notched his second victory of 2014 after pitching the eighth, with the save going to Aaron Crow, his second.

Also not around long enough to earn a decision either way was Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin who, like Ventura, was touched for a pair of home runs and three earned runs. Tomlin, who has now surrendered 16 home runs in 15 outings, gave up seven hits and fanned five in 5 1/3 innings.

"It's a problem that needs to be solved," said Tomlin of the home run balls he has served up. "I have to do a better job of working on it and seeing what pitches they're doing that to, and seeing what I'm doing mechanically to make those balls stay over the middle of the plate."

Carlos Santana stroked two home runs for the Indians, driving in three and scoring twice, while David Murphy accounted for another three hits for a Cleveland squad that is one game below .500 on the season, but still third in the division standings at the moment.

Winless since last facing off against Kansas City back on April 21, Zach McAllister has been penciled in as the starter for the Indians tonight.

The right-hander, who has bowed in five of his last eight appearances since defeating the Royals more than three months ago, was on the hill last week at this time against Detroit and failed to register a decision, even as Cleveland came out on top in a 5-2 final.

McAllister made it through 5 1/3 innings, permitting just a single run on three hits and as many walks, while striking out six.

For his career, one that has stretched four years at the major league level, McAllister as a mark of 2-2 with a 4.94 ERA in four meetings with KC.

Also having a tough time finding his way back into the win column is KC starter Jeremy Guthrie. While his drought has not been nearly as long as that of McAllister, Guthrie has come up empty since June 23rd's triumph over the Los Angeles Dodger. Guthrie has fallen in three straight decisions.

The most recent outing for the right-hander out of Stanford took place on Monday when he lasted six innings versus the Chicago White Sox, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks. Guthrie, who has a career mark of 4-5 versus the Tribe, managed to strike out five Sox.

Kansas City hitters are third in the AL in combined batting with a .263 average, yet the squad is the weakest in all of baseball when it comes to home runs, producing a mere 60 through the first 102 games.

07/26 10:20:41 ET

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