Major League Baseball
Preview
Cleveland at Kansas City
When: 3:15 PM ET, Sunday, September 30, 2018
Where: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

Whit Merrifield looks to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games and do something a Kansas City Royals player has not done in more than 30 years when the playoff-bound Cleveland Indians visit for the regular-season finale Sunday. Merrifield is 26-for-81 over the last 19 games to push his season total to 191 hits, five ahead of everyone else in the quest to become the first Royal to lead the AL since Kevin Seitzer (207) shared the honor in 1987.

Merrifield, who also leads the AL in stolen bases with 44, is tied with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman for the major-league lead in hits after going 2-for-4 with two RBIs in a 9-4 victory Saturday night. Kansas City will finish last behind AL Central champion Cleveland but has won five of its last six overall and is 15-4 at home since Aug. 16 as left-hander Eric Skoglund takes the ball against Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco on Sunday. The Indians open play in the AL Division Series at Houston on Friday and have a host of players hot with the bats, but ace starter Corey Kluber and top reliever Andrew Miller surrendered 12 hits over 5 2/3 innings Saturday. Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez belted his 39th homer among three hits in the loss to raise his batting average in September to .193.

TV: 3:15 p.m. ET, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), FS Kansas City

PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Carlos Carrasco (16-10, 3.42 ERA) vs. Royals LH Eric Skoglund (1-5, 5.40)

Carrasco is winless in September with a 3.62 ERA in five appearances, including Tuesday as a reliever when he allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Chicago White Sox. The 31-year-old Venezuelan had three straight quality starts before the last outing but could not add to the second-most wins in his career. Merrifield is 7-for-14 with four extra-base hits versus Carrasco, who is 10-6 with a 3.55 ERA lifetime against the Royals.

Skoglund has been outstanding in September but has been unable to earn a victory despite posting a 1.17 ERA over 15 1/3 innings combined. The 25-year-old Florida native did not permit a run across 8 1/3 innings total in his last two starts, yielding four hits and zero walks with three strikeouts. Francisco Lindor is 2-for-2 with a double, a homer and a walk against Skoglund, who gave up 11 runs over 3 1/3 innings in a pair of losses versus Cleveland in 2017.

WALK-OFFS

1. Cleveland OF Melky Cabrera is 11-for-29 with four RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.

2. Kansas City INF Adalberto Mondesi boasts five homers in his last 10 games, including a three-run blast Saturday.

3. Indians LF Michael Brantley has hit safely in eight straight games, going 13-for-34 in that stretch to raise his average to .309.

PREDICTION: Indians 5, Royals 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Cleveland 90-71 L1 49-32 41-39 16-18 48-27 14-18 12-8
Kansas City 58-103 W1 32-48 26-55 9-24 36-39 7-26 6-14
Last Meeting
Cleveland Kansas City
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
9/29/18 CLE 4 KC 9 .286 1 .773 .400 1 .992
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Cleveland F. Lindor .301 22 .981
Kansas City W. Merrifield .260 19 .720
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Cleveland F. Lindor 6 18 15
Kansas City S. Perez 3 7 11
Pitching ERA Avg K
Cleveland 3.55 .264 162
Kansas City 5.26 .256 111
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Cleveland M. Brantley .309 175 .832
Kansas City W. Merrifield .304 191 .808
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Cleveland J. Ramirez 39 110 106
Kansas City S. Perez 27 52 80
Pitching ERA Avg K
Cleveland 3.79 .259 1536
Kansas City 4.98 .246 1149