Major League Baseball
Preview
Cleveland at Kansas City
When: 8:15 PM ET, Friday, September 30, 2016
Where: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

The Kansas City Royals aren't returning to the postseason and need one more victory for their fourth straight winning season. The Royals have three chances to record victory No. 82, beginning with Friday's opener of a series against the visiting Cleveland Indians.

Kansas City played in back-to-back World Series - winning the crown last year - and a fourth straight victorious campaign would represent the franchise's longest stretch since recording six in row from 1975-80. "It's definitely going to be hard," first baseman Eric Hosmer told reporters about not being part of the playoffs. "We've been right in the thick of things the last few years, but that's just baseball. That's how it goes." One of the teams the Royals will be watching are the Indians, who were rained out against Detroit on Thursday and stand a half-game behind the Boston Red Sox for homefield advantage in the American League Division Series. Cleveland has dropped four its last five games and scored just four total runs in the losses.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, STO (Cleveland), FSN Kansas City

PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians LH Ryan Merritt (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Royals RH Yordano Ventura (11-11, 4.40)

Merritt is making his first major-league start after three big-league relief appearances. The 24-year-old pitched 4 1/3 innings of one-hit scoreless relief against Texas in his debut on May 30. Merritt went 11-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts for Triple-A Columbus.

Ventura allowed three runs and 10 hits across four-plus innings in a no-decision against Detroit in his last turn. He departed the contest due to tightness in his lower back but was ruled healthy enough to make his final start. Ventura is 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in nine career starts against the Indians but is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two 2016 outings.

WALK-OFFS

1. Indians OF Coco Crisp is batting .224 in 18 games since being acquired from Oakland.

2. Kansas City RF Paulo Orlando matched his career high of four hits in Thursday's 7-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins and is 14-for-27 during a seven-game hitting streak.

3. Cleveland RHP Corey Kluber (quadriceps) is progressing and on track to pitch in either Game 1 or Game 2 of the ALDS.

PREDICTION: Royals 4, Indians 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Cleveland 91-67 L2 53-28 38-39 14-18 46-26 18-16 13-7
Kansas City 81-78 L1 47-31 34-47 15-17 46-27 10-24 10-10
Last Meeting
Cleveland Kansas City
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
9/22/16 KC 2 CLE 5 .192 2 .844 .188 1 .548
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Cleveland F. Lindor .345 20 1.041
Kansas City C. Cuthbert .386 17 .994
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Cleveland C. Santana 6 7 13
Kansas City S. Perez 3 5 9
Pitching ERA Avg K
Cleveland 3.09 .260 128
Kansas City 4.82 .246 105
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Cleveland J. Ramirez .311 172 .826
Kansas City C. Cuthbert .276 129 .730
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Cleveland M. Napoli 34 92 101
Kansas City K. Morales 30 64 93
Pitching ERA Avg K
Cleveland 3.88 .262 1369
Kansas City 4.21 .262 1262