All square at a game apiece in their third MLB odds series of the season, the Indians and Royals settle things Thursday evening at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium.
Indians vs. Royals Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Some early offense and their usually strong bullpen helped Kansas City to a 4-2 victory Wednesday, moving the Royals into a tie with the Twins in the AL Central and knotting their series with the Cleveland Indians to set up Thursday's rubber game.
The 8:10 PM (ET) matchup at Kauffman Stadium finds youth against experience for the initial mound duel, Trevor Bauer doing the honors for the Indians against KC's Chris Young. MLB odds have the Royals -120 to -125 on the moneyline plus a 7½ run total that generally favors the 'over' at sports books.
Young Looks To Rebound From 1st Loss
Bauer is quietly stringing together the kind of season that many predicted for him when the Diamondbacks took him with the third overall pick out of UCLA in 2011. He leads all Cleveland starters with a sub-3.00 ERA, good enough for 13th-best in the AL, and also has the staff lead with eight quality starts in 19 tries.
The 24-year-old no-decisioned in his only outing vs. the Royals this season, tossing six and allowing three runs in an eventual 11-5 Tribe defeat. Since coming to Cleveland before the 2013 campaign, Bauer has started two games in Kansas City, the Indians splitting the clashes with the righthander posting a 2.45 ERA (11 IP).
Kansas City won four of Young's five starts in May, the only loss occurring last Wednesday in New York when the Yankees reached him for four runs in his six frames, all plate crossings the results of a pair of homers. Those were the first two long balls Young had allowed since April 16, a span of more than 30 innings over five starts and four relief appearances. Young's only matchups vs. Cleveland this year came out of the bullpen (3.1 IP, 0 R), but he helped Seattle to a pair of wins against the Indians as a starter last year (10.1 IP, 5 ER).
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Finishing off this series behind the dish should be David Rackley who has been umpiring at the major league level for over five years now, but is in just his second full season. Three of his last four plate assignments paid off for 'under' bettors on the MLB odds, the other a push, to leave the Houston native 2-5-2 O/U/P for 2015. Rackley has made just one appearance under the mask in KC, it also finishing below the total, and home favorites are 2-3 when he calls balls and strikes.
Afternoon thunderstorms could linger into the evening, but the weatherman is calling for at least a 4-5 hour window this evening to get the game played. It will be a muggy 82º at game time with a 5-8 SSE breeze (out to left-center), and I'll be riding the series trend with a free baseball pick on the 'under' 7½ (-105).
MLB Pick: Under at BookMaker
Indians vs. Royals Game 2
By: Willie Bee
Pitching was the name of the game in Kansas City on Tuesday when the Royals and Cleveland Indians began their third series of the 2015 baseball betting campaign. And for once, Royals relievers didn't have their usual shut-down stuff as the Indians scratched a late run across the plate for a 2-1 victory.
Cleveland is favored to make it 2-straight in the series, and win its 4th-straight overall, when the clubs reconvene Tuesday evening (8:10 PM ET) at Kauffman Stadium. The Indians send ace Corey Kluber to the mound as -130 chalk, a little more or a little less at some shops monitored by SBR's live MLB odds; Kansas City counters with Jason Vargas and a 7½ run total is evenly priced high and low.
Vargas Making 2nd Start Off DL
Since being slapped around by the Royals in a May 7 start at KC (5.2 IP, 5 ER), Kluber has settled down and looked more like the guy who won the 2014 AL Cy Young. The Alabama native has pitched to a 1.40 ERA in four subsequent outings, but even more impressive is a 50/2 strikeout to walk ratio in those 32 innings.
The early-May assignment in Kansas City left Kluber and the Tribe 0-2 against the Royals this year after Cleveland split his four starts in the series last year, the righthander posting an impressive 1.15 ERA in those assignments. Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer have combined to slug fiver homers off Kluber, but also batted just .203 (12-59).
Vargas missed three weeks in May due to a strained left flexor, winning two consecutive starts vs. the Indians before hitting the DL. The southpaw worked 11 combined innings in the victories, allowing four runs and a pair of homers. He burned through 76 pitches in his first start back from the injured list a little more than a week ago, taking the loss in New York, and should be able to stretch things out to 90 tosses this time around.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Known for often having a quick thumb in a beef with a player or manager, Bob Davidson is scheduled to call balls and strikes in the second game of this series. He's closing in on 1,000 plate assignments for his career, including the playoffs, and totals for Davidson's games have run 5-4 O/U this season. Home teams are just 3-6 on the MLB odds, 0-2 as the underdog.
Updated forecasts suggests it's going to get wet in Kansas City this afternoon, but the rain chances diminish by game time when a very humid 81º appears on the thermometer with a light SSE breeze (out to left-center). With the way Kluber has been pitching and the rut the Royals have fallen into, Cleveland (-130) looks like a great play for my free MLB pick.
MLB Pick: Indians -130
Indians vs. Royals Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Kansas City broke a 28-season playoff drought a year ago when the Royals won their first American League flag since 1985. They fell short in the World Series, losing to the San Francisco Giants in seven games, but are right back in the thick of the postseason hunt after the first two months of the 2015 MLB betting schedule.
The Royals would like to get the third month started on a winning note, the Cleveland Indians their first opponent for June with the AL Central foes beginning a 3-game series Tuesday evening in KC. The clubs are meeting for the third time this season, both of the previous series going to the Royals by 2-1 counts. All six of the matchups this year, and the last eight clashes dating to their final series of 2014, went 'over' the totals. Cleveland and Kansas City combined for 33 runs in the three games played at Kauffman Stadium in early-May.
Game 1 of the set gets underway at 8:10 PM (ET) with a clash of righthanders, Carlos Carrasco heading to the bump for the Tribe against Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals. Cleveland is chalked in the -115 to -125 range on the MLB odds, the 'under' on an 8 run total carrying a little extra juice.
KC Relievers Lead Majors With 1.87 ERA
Both teams enjoyed a day off on Monday and enter this series six games apart in the AL Central ranks. Cleveland (24-26, -6.3 units) won its final two games in Seattle over the weekend, taking three of four in that series to just climb out of the division cellar a half-game ahead of the White Sox. Kansas City (29-19, +9.3 units), meanwhile, spent the weekend in Chicago to wrap up a 6-game road trip, splitting two games with the Cubs with the middle game of that set rained out. The Royals have dropped five of their last six to fall a half-game back of the Twins at the top of the division.
Both sides are among the top clubs in the American League on the offensive side, Kansas City second averaging 4.67 runs per game with Cleveland fifth at 4.50. The biggest difference there is in the power column, the Indians right at the league average with 47 round-trippers and the Royals 14th in the AL with just 37.
Kansas City also ranks second in the Junior Circuit with a 3.49 ERA, Cleveland's mark a little more than a half-run higher and 11th. A big chunk of that gap can be found in the two bullpens, Royals relievers leading all of baseball with a stellar 1.87 ERA while the Indians own a 3.26 ERA out of the 'pen, well behind KC but still good enough for 11th in the majors.
Tribe Hitters With Collective .991 OPS Vs. Guthrie
Carrasco leads the Indians staff with six wins, though he has the highest ERA among the four starting pitchers who have been in the rotation since mid-April. He has been whittling that ERA down the past two assignments, allowing just three earnies in 14 combined innings during victories over the Reds and Rangers.
The Venezuelan picked up one of his half-dozen dubyas during that early-May set in Kansas City, tossing seven frames and allowing three runs in a 10-3 Cleveland rout. That was Carrasco's first win over the Royals since 2011, and he's 3-4 lifetime vs. KC with a 4.69 ERA in eight starts and five relief outings.
Guthrie shares the win lead on the Royals staff with Edinson Volquez and Chris Young, each member of that trio chiming in with four. One of his no-decisions came in a KC win at Cleveland in late-April when he worked the first five innings and allowed four runs. Several Tribe batters have feasted on the former Stanford star, led by Jason Kipnis who has 11 hits in 22 at bats vs. Guthrie, two of them big flies.
There is a slight chance of rain the next few days in Kansas City, but nothing that should prevent all three games from being played. First pitch tonight should find the thermometer in the muggy mid-70s and an 8-10 mph SE breeze (right to left). I'll be riding the Indians for my free MLB pick in Game 1.
MLB Pick: Indians -120 at BookMaker