After a rare loss and poor pitching performance on the road, the Kansas City Royals are in good position to bounce back with their hottest pitcher taking the mound.
The offense may not feel the same confidence ahead of a matchup with Corey Kluber.
Danny Duffy will try to continue rolling following an outstanding June as the Royals seek their fifth straight road series win Sunday against Kluber and the Cleveland Indians.
Kansas City starters had posted a 2.58 ERA while winning 11 of the previous 13 road games before Jeremy Guthrie allowed six runs and a season-high 11 hits over four-plus innings in Saturday's 7-3 loss at Progressive Field.
The Royals (45-41), four games behind AL Central-leading Detroit, haven't dropped a road series since losing two of three against the Los Angeles Angels from May 23-25.
Duffy (5-7, 2.60 ERA) gives them a strong chance to get back on track after ranking third among AL starters with a 1.69 ERA over six June starts. The left-hander pitched particularly well on the road, going 3-1 with a 1.05 ERA in four outings.
"His last five, six, seven starts have been really, really good," manager Ned Yost told MLB's official website. "And that's a big enough sample to say this ain't no fluke."
Duffy allowed two hits over two innings in a relief appearance at Cleveland on April 22. He's given up six runs and 14 hits over 10 1-3 innings in two career starts against the Indians (42-44), though both outings came in his 2011 rookie season.
Kluber (7-6, 2.99) also has enjoyed a solid stretch, allowing just three runs over 20 2-3 innings over his last three starts. However, he's taken the loss in two of those outings while receiving no runs of support in either contest.
"That's part of the game," the right-hander said. "You sometimes run into a buzz saw and other guys have great games. You can't really second-guess or complain about that. You've just got to tip your hat to the other guys."
Kluber has yet to surrender an earned run over 16 2-3 innings in two career home starts against the Royals, going 2-0 while allowing seven hits with 19 strikeouts. But he wasn't as sharp in the last meeting in Kansas City on June 10, giving up a season-high six runs - three earned - over five innings in a 9-5 loss.
Mike Moustakas is 6 for 16 with three doubles when facing Kluber, while Omar Infante and Jarrod Dyson have both gone 5 for 14. Infante had two hits in his return after being a late scratch Friday because of tightness in his lower back.
Alcides Escobar has been one of the Royals' top hitters, batting .393 over an eight-game hitting streak. He ranked fourth in all of baseball with a .374 average in June.
The Indians seek their fourth win in five games after scoring at least five runs in each of their last three victories.
Michael Brantley is 5 for 9 in this series, leaving him with a .429 average over a 13-game hitting streak versus Kansas City. Lonnie Chisenhall, 9 for 22 against the Royals in 2014, is hitting .350 with nine homers and 36 RBIs since May 14.
The Indians have placed leadoff hitter and center fielder Michael Bourn on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Bourn, who had surgery on the hamstring in October, injured the hamstring again on May 3 and missed four games. He was removed from Saturday's game in the eighth inning after his leg tightened up while scoring on a single by Michael Brantley.
The Associated Press News Service
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