(Photo credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
The Kansas City Royals will look to push the visiting Cleveland Guardians closer to the brink of elimination from postseason contention on Wednesday afternoon.
The Royals benefited from a four-run eighth inning to record a 6-4 win in the opener of the three-game series on Monday. Then MJ Melendezhomered, drove in three runs and scored three times in Kansas City's 7-6 victory on Tuesday.
Melendez has answered a dismal 0-for-19 run over a six-game stretch by going 6-for-14 with five RBIs over his past five.
"Hopefully he's taking every opportunity he gets (to improve), and that's what it looks like," Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. "He made a couple nice plays in the field (Tuesday) as well, running the bases aggressively. So his total game has been really good lately."
Maikel Garcia had three hits on Tuesday to improve to 9-for-26 in his past seven games for cellar-dwelling Kansas City (50-102), which has won six of those contests.
Cleveland (72-80) has dropped 10 of its past 16 to fall eight games behind the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins (80-72) with 10 games to play. Any combination of three Twins wins or Guardians losses will eliminate Cleveland from the AL Central race.
Andres Gimenez swiped his 30th bag on Tuesday, making him just the third Cleveland second baseman to steal 30 bases in a season. Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar accomplished the feat three times from 1999-2001, and Jason Kipnis did it in both 2012 and '13.
"It feels good. You obviously put a lot of work in the offseason just to be healthy. But we lose the game, so you know," Gimenez said with a shrug.
Kansas City's Zack Greinke (1-15, 5.39 ERA) will take the mound on Wednesday against Cleveland's Lucas Giolito (8-13, 4.69) in a battle of right-handers.
Greinke, 39, most recently allowed three hits over two scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Houston Astros on Friday.
The 2009 AL Cy Young Award recipient sports a 12-10 record with a 3.50 ERA in 37 career appearances (32 starts) vs. the Guardians. Greinke is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts against Cleveland this year.
Giolito, 29, ended a five-start losing skid in style on Friday. He scattered two hits and a walk while striking out a season-high 12 batters over seven shutout innings in a 12-3 victory against the Texas Rangers.
"I had the type of start that I like to have every fifth day," Giolito said. "Being here in this environment with these guys, it's been very nice after a very hectic month-plus."
Giolito will look to win back-to-back outings on Wednesday afternoon for the first time since May 30 and June 6 -- before he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels and subsequently claimed off waivers by Cleveland.
While pitching for the Chicago White Sox, Giolito won a pair of starts against Kansas City in May. He yielded a total of three runs on 11 hits in 12 innings with 13 strikeouts and three walks.
Giolito is 11-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 22 career appearances (all starts) vs. the Royals.
--Field Level Media