The Indians and Tigers continue to jockey for position atop the American League Central. The Royals would like to get in on the action.
After Tuesday's 6-5 loss in the series opener against Cleveland, Kansas City fell 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Tribe, while second-place Detroit sits a half-game back.
"Our plan is to get back to .500 and hopefully jump from there," said Royals outfielder David Lough. "This is a big series for us and we'll take it."
The Royals enter Wednesday's contest at 38-42. Lough said the division deficit isn't daunting.
"To us, it's really nothing," Lough said. "We feel like we are right in there, right in the hunt, and we feel like we're capable of pushing to that first-place role and staying there. We've just got to play our game and start putting together some more consecutive wins."
Royals manager Ned Yost is encouraged by the notion that his team has yet to play its best baseball.
"It is encouraging knowing that the offense has yet to hit its stride all year long, and knowing that when it does hit its stride there will be runs put up on the board," Yost said. "You know that you can't go all year under performing like we have to this point."
The Indians lead the season series with the Royals, 5-3. Wednesday's meeting will pit Tribe southpaw Scott Kazmir (4-4, 4.83 ERA) against former Indians hurler Jeremy Guthrie (7-6, 4.11 ERA).
In his last outing, Kazmir carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Over his last two starts, he has allowed only one earned run on six hits over 14 innings.
"I was just locked in with what I wanted to do," Kazmir said after limiting the Orioles to one unearned run on one hit last Wednesday. "I'm feeling comfortable where I'm at right now. There's still a lot to work on, but I feel like my delivery is getting a lot more consistent, that's for sure."
Indians: Kipnis keeps hitting
A flip of the calendar won't deter Jason Kipnis. Cleveland's second baseman batted .419 in June and captured a pair of AL Player of the Week awards. The Indians had the day off on Monday, so Kipnis had to wait a day to carry his scorching streak at the plate into July. On Tuesday, he singled, walked and scored two runs. He has reached base in 33 consecutive games.
"It was a great month. I definitely enjoyed it," Kipnis said. "I definitely love the fact that we are winning games and we're in first place now. But, it's July now. New month. I get to start back over in terms of that. Hopefully the team keeps some momentum going."
Royals: Guthrie seeking eighth win
Guthrie took the loss in each of his last three starts. Over that stretch, he sports a 6.89 ERA. The Indians selected Guthrie in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. In seven career outings (five starts) against his former club, Guthrie is 3-2 with a 5.45 ERA.
• Kansas City's Billy Butler extended his hitting streak to eight games with an eighth-inning double on Tuesday.
• At 18-7, the Indians boast baseball's best record in one-run games.