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NYM@CLE: Kazmir fans season-high 12, stifles the Mets

Well, well, well. It's you again.

After a brief break from each other, the Indians and Royals are going at it once more. As with the series in Cleveland last week, the set beginning on Monday at Kauffman Stadium has all kinds of implications for the American League Wild Card race.

The top two spots in the standings belong to Tampa Bay and Texas. Cleveland is just a half-game back, with Baltimore behind by 2 1/2, New York three back and Kansas City trailing by 3 1/2 games.

When the Indians hosted the Royals at Progressive Field last week, Kansas City left town with two wins in three tries. Since then, the Royals dropped two out of three at Comerica Park, while the Tribe swept a four-game set from the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

For Monday's series opener in Kansas City, the Royals will send righty James Shields (11-9, 3.38 ERA) to the mound against Cleveland southpaw Scott Kazmir (8-8, 4.24 ERA). The two pitchers went head-to-head in last Wednesday's finale, with Shields leading Kansas City to a series-clinching victory.

Over eight-plus innings, Shields allowed four hits and two runs. He had seven strikeouts to go along with just one walk.

"The excitement is there," Shields said of being in contention. "We're exactly where we wanted to be at the end of the season. We would like to have the lead in the division, but it is what it is. We're here now, and we're playing and we're fighting for a playoff spot. We have some pretty special moments."

Those words could just as easily have come from Kazmir, who gave up four runs (three earned) in four-plus innings last Wednesday. With the end of the season in sight, the Tribe's position is very similar to that of Kansas City, and so is the goal.

"We're in a good situation, right now," Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall said. "We've got like two weeks left and we're close to making the playoffs, and that's where we want to be."

Indians: Chisenhall contributing at right time
• Chisenhall had a 3-for-3 day at the plate in the middle installment of last week's run-in with the Royals. In eight September games, he is batting .348 (8-for-23) with three doubles and two home runs. He also has five RBIs.

"The past two or three weeks, I've felt better in the box," Chisenhall said. "It's been frustrating for me this year. I made some small adjustments at the plate that haven't worked, but right now I feel like I have something good going and I'm going to try to continue to do that."

Royals: Gordon riding hitting streak
• Left fielder and leadoff hitter Alex Gordon has hit safely in 10 straight games. During that span, Gordon is batting .349 (15-for-43) with one double, four home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored. He scored at least one run in all three games at Progressive Field last week.

• With their 3-2 loss on Sunday, the Royals have had 52 one-run games this year, second-most in the AL behind Chicago (53). In such tilts, Kansas City is 28-24.

Worth noting
• The Indians have a 9-7 edge in the season series. They've outscored Kansas City so far, 73-66.

• After this week's series concludes on Wednesday, Cleveland will finish its season with four against the Astros, two against the White Sox and four against the Twins. Kansas City's remaining schedule, meanwhile, will bring three against the Rangers, three against the Mariners and four against the White Sox.

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