The Indians & Royals close out a series in Cleveland with the Tribe odds on favorites. We're previewing the finale with our MLB picks featuring a nice pitching matchup on the betting card.
Concern is beginning to grow in Kansas City as the Royals continue to struggle coming down the stretch. They'll try and stop the slide Thursday night in Cleveland where they finish up a long series against the surging Indians. Corey Kluber gets the ball for the Indians in the 7:10 PM (ET) start at Progressive Field. Cleveland is chalked with a -134 moneyline at 5Dimes, Yordano Ventura pitching for the Royals with a 7 run total favoring the 'over' on Thursday's MLB odds board.
Royals Need Win To Even Series
Cleveland drew first blood in the long series on Monday with an 8-3 win, Lonnie Chisenhall providing the offense with three hits and three runs drive in while Carlos Carrasco tossed the first six innings allowing just one KC plate crossing. No Indians crossed the plate in Tuesday's 2-0 Royals victory, Kris Medlen working into the seventh of the combined shutout that ended with Greg Holland's 31st save of the season.
Wednesday night belonged to Cleveland as the Indians climbed back to .500 on the season with a 5-1 victory behind Danny Salazar's pitching and Francisco Lindor's big night at the plate. The loss left the Royals 5-10 on the month, but still with a comfortable 10-game lead atop the AL Central while the victory pushed the Indians within four games of the second AL Wild Card.
It has been an evenly played series over the years, and especially the past few seasons with the clubs even-Steven at 28 wins apiece from 2012-14 and KC up 8-7 in 2015. The Indians are 105-74 at home, the 'over' up 6-3 on this field this year.
Can Kluber Deliver As Home Favorite?
Ventura has endured a couple of rough outings recently, but the Royals managed to split the contests and have won eight of his 11 second half assignments. The young Dominican still has his bouts of poor control -- 3+ walks in half of his last 8 starts -- but continues to let his defense help him out by keeping the ball down for the most part and in the park with just 14 homers served up on the year, only two coming in his last five trips to the bump.
Control issues did bite him the only time Ventura saw the Indians this season, the righthander issuing five free passes and taking the loss in a 7-5 decision on this mound in late-April. Carlos Santana has been the toughest out in the Tribe lineup for Ventura, the squatty Indian taking him deep twice and reaching base nine times in 19 plate appearances.
Kluber has never really gotten over a slow start to the campaign that saw Cleveland drop his first seven starts and all five in June to stand 10-18 behind the reigning AL Cy Young winner, and off more than 14 units vs. the baseball odds. He's 1-3 in four assignments vs. the Royals on the year, a 4.34 ERA in tow with the only win a complete game, 5-hitter at Progressive Field about seven weeks ago. It's his first start this month following a slight hamstring pull, and he'll be monitored very closely by manager Terry Francona.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Chris Guccione should complete one full turn south of the dish through the umpire rotation on Thursday, the 8-year veteran bringing some fairly level baseball betting stats into the affair. Totals have run 14-15 O/U in his previous 29 plate assignments, perhaps a push in there depending when you got your wager in on his June 20 contest in LA between the Giants and Dodgers that just skipped 'over' a 7½ run total. The Colorado native has a slight lean to visitors at 16-13 on the year, but mostly when they're small underdogs on the MLB odds in the +100 to +130 range when they've gone 9-3.
Weather isn't going to interfere with the game, the Cleveland forecast calling for clear skies and temps in the mid-70s at first pitch. I'm going to run with the hotter team and lay the chalk for my free MLB pick.
MLB Pick: Indians -134 @ 5Dimes