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Cleveland Indians (93-67) at Kansas City Royals (81-80)
Sunday, October 02 - 3:15 PM EST
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
The Cleveland Indians have seized control of their postseason destiny - at least for the opening round - and can clinch home field as early as Sunday, when they go for a sweep of the host Kansas City Royals. Already set to meet Boston in the American League Division Series, the Indians can secure home-field advantage with a win Sunday and a loss by the Red Sox.
If Cleveland and Boston both win - or both lose - on Sunday, the Indians will maintain a one-half game edge over the Red Sox and be forced to play and win a makeup game Monday of Thursday's postponement at Detroit. Opening the series at Progressive Field could be a decided edge for Cleveland, given it is tied with Texas for the most home wins in the AL. The Indians nudged ahead of the Red Sox with a 6-3 win Saturday, getting a big two-run double by Francisco Lindor, who is 3-for-5 in the series with a home run and five RBIs after going hitless in his previous nine games. The Royals, who have dropped three in a row overall and 13 of 18 meetings with Cleveland, need to win their season finale to post a winning record for the fourth consecutive year.
TV: 3:15 p.m. ET, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Josh Tomlin (12-9, 4.48 ERA) vs. Royals RH Ian Kennedy (11-10, 3.69)
Tomlin was expected to be relegated to the bullpen for the postseason, but the rash of injuries to the starting rotation could have elevated him to a prominent role. He has given Cleveland reason to feel more confident over his last three outings, allowing one earned run in each following a wretched August in which he went 0-5 with a staggering 11.48 ERA. Tomlin had a strong outing versus Kansas City on Sept. 20, giving up one run over 6 2/3 innings.
Kennedy had a 10-start unbeaten streak halted at Cleveland on Sept. 21, when he permitted three runs and a season-high 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. He did not factor in the decision against Minnesota last time out, allowing three runs and five hits over five frames in his fifth straight start against an AL Central opponent. Tomlin will be relieved if he doesn't have to face ailing Salvador Perez, who is 15-for-26 with a homer and eight doubles against him.
1. Trevor Bauer will start Cleveland's ALDS opener and be followed by fellow RHPs Corey Kluber and Tomlin in Games 2 and 3, respectively.
2. Royals C Perez has missed three straight games due to a sore knee and strained hamstring.
3. Indians DH Carlos Santana has doubled and tripled in back-to-back games, becoming the first Cleveland player to accomplish the feat since Ordell Hale in 1936.
PREDICTION: Indians 4, Royals 3