This is the eleventh time the Royals and Indians have matched up this year. The Royals have still yet to face their heated rivals the Seattle Mariners. Quirks of the schedule I suppose.
The Indians have been a mild surprise in the Central going on a run in May and reaching first place just before Memorial Day weekend. Since then they've hovered above .500, although a recent slide leaves them 48-44 for the year. The Indians have lost eight of their last eleven that includes a couple losses last weekend in Kansas City. The offense has dipped slightly this month, scoring 4.4 runs per game compared to 4.8 runs per game for the year. Asdrubal Cabrera (.143/.256/.229), Michael Bourn (.205/.205/.205) and Mark Reynolds (.069/.182/.069) have gone ice cold in hot July. The bullpen has also been horrendous lately, with a 5.65 ERA for the month.
The Indians lead the league in stolen bases with 72 which I never would have guessed. They did add speedster Michael Bourn and the relatively fast Drew Stubbs this past winter, so perhaps I need to update my image of what I think of when I think of INDIANS BASEBALL (Do they still have Brook Jacoby?) Jason Kipnis actually leads the team in steals with 20, and Michael Brantley joins those three players in the doubie digit stolen bases club. The team hasn't had four players with 20 steals or more in a season since 1911 (who could forget Cleveland greats Ivy Olson and Jack Graney swiping bases against the dastardly St. Louis Browns?). By comparison, the Royals did this as recently as 2011. That's what speed do!
The Indians are now just 3.5 games in front of the Royals, so a great weekend could put the Royals within a hair of second place. Its the last series before the All-Star break, so it would be nice to send Alex and Sal to New York with some momentum. Don't mess this up Ned.