The first-place Cleveland Indians

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The first-place Cleveland Indians

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will attempt to avoid being swept in a three-game series by the last-place Kansas City Royals when the two teams meet on Sunday afternoon in Kauffman Stadium.After splitting a tense and competitive four-game series with the Red Sox in Boston on the first leg of a seven-game road trip Joey Wendle Jersey , the Indians have looked flat in dropping the first two games in Kansas City by a combined score of 12-5, including the Royals beating Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber 7-1 Saturday night.Cleveland has lost four in a row, matching its longest losing streak of the year.Article continues below ...“We’ve got to figure out a way to play better,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We look a little tired. We’ve got to show up (Sunday) and grind and find a way to win.”The Indians go into Sunday’s series finale with their two most important hitters, both MVP candidates, in slumps. In the first six games of the road trip Francisco Lindor is hitting .154 (4-for-26) with no RBIs, and Jose Ramirez is hitting .143 (3-for-21) with no RBIs.“They’re having a tough time,” Francona said. “We lean on them so much, and we will continue to. But (Royals pitchers) have done a real good job on those guys the last couple of nights.”In their 7-1 loss Saturday night the Indians were out-hit by the Royals 14-5. Cleveland’s only run came on a balk.Sunday’s pitching matchup will be a pair of right-handers, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber vs. Kansas City’s Jorge Lopez.Bieber (7-2 http://www.raysfanproshop.com/authentic-christian-arroyo-jersey , 4.36) is coming off one of his most impressive starts of the season, a 6-3 win over Boston on Aug. 21 in which he held the Red Sox’ potent offense scoreless on two hits through the first six innings. Bieber’s final line was 6 1/3 innings, three runs, five hits, with five strikeouts and no walks.Bieber is a rookie, and like many rookies he’s been very streaky. In four August starts he is 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA. In his four starts prior to that he was 1-2 with a 7.71 ERA. In his four starts prior to that he was 4-0 with a 2.19 ERA.Sunday will be Bieber’s second career appearance vs. Kansas City. His only other appearance against the Royals was a start on July 3 in which he got the win in a 6-4 Cleveland victory. He pitched six innings, allowing four runs and nine hits, with two strikeouts and one walk.Lopez (0-3, 3.99) was acquired by Kansas City from Milwaukee as part of a trade in which the Royals sent Mike Moustakas to the Brewers. Lopez was used as a reliever in Milwaukee, but the Royals are using him as a starter.In 10 relief appearances with the Brewers Lopez was 0-1 with a 2.75 ERA. In two starts with the Royals he is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA. Lopez also appeared in a combined 26 games (two starts) at the Triple-A level for the Brewers and Royals and was 4-3 with a 5.26 ERA.Lopez’s last major league start for Kansas City was a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Aug. 20 http://www.raysfanproshop.com/authentic-nathan-eovaldi-jersey , in which he pitched five innings, allowing one run and five hits, with three strikeouts and three walks.Lopez has one career appearance vs. Cleveland, a relief effort for Milwaukee on May 9. He pitched two innings, giving up two runs and two hits, with one strikeout and no walks.For his career overall at the major league level, Lopez is 1-3 with a 5.95 ERA in four career starts. In 11 career relief appearances he is 0-1 with a 2.91 ERA. Growing up in the Seattle area, Adrian Sampson dreamed of pitching at Safeco Field.The Texas Rangers’ right-hander will finally get his much-delayed chance Saturday night against the Mariners.“I’m excited about it,” the 26-year-old Sampson told MLB.com. “When I get out there, I just need to put blinders on http://www.raysfanproshop.com/authentic-daniel-robertson-jersey , but that’s how I have been pitching lately, with tunnel vision. It is my last start and this has been a good year. To culminate the whole year by pitching here is pretty special.”Article continues below ...Just how special?Sampson, who starred at Skyline High School in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish and at nearby Bellevue Community College, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth round in 2012. He was traded to the Mariners on July 31, 2015, for left-hander J.A. Happ.He was called up by Seattle the following June and made his major-league debut with a start at Boston’s Fenway Park.Five days later, he took the mound at Detroit’s Comerica Park. But while throwing his second-to-last warmup pitch before the first inning, Sampson felt tingling in his right elbow.The diagnosis was a torn flexor tendon muscle.“I feel terrible for him,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said at the time. “I really do. He was really excited to get to the big leagues. He’s worked his tail off, and he was playing for the hometown team.”The Rangers claimed him off waivers after the 2016 season and Sampson missed most of 2017 following surgery. After going 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA at Triple-A Round Rock Matt Andriese Jersey , Sampson received a September call-up.Sampson (0-2, 4.96 ERA) had made four appearances this month, including three starts.“I’d say I’m a little better at this point in all aspects,” Sampson told The Dallas Morning News on whether he’s back to his pre-injury level. “Not just physically but mentally, too. I feel like I’m back and ready to compete at the major-league level.”Sampson, who is still seeking his first major-league victory, will be opposed by Mariners ace James Paxton (11-6, 3.85). The left-hander is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA in 12 career starts against Texas, and that includes an 0-0 record and 7.00 ERA in two starts against the Rangers this year.“I’m real happy getting another opportunity to pitch this year,” Paxton told MLB.com. “I’ll just continue to work and try to find that rhythm and sharpness that I want and feel good going into the offseason.”Paxton is one strikeout shy of becoming the sixth Mariners pitcher to reach 200 in a season. Randy Johnson accomplished the feat seven times http://www.raysfanproshop.com/authentic-c.-j.-cron-jersey , Felix Hernandez six, Mark Langston four and Floyd Bannister and Erik Hanson once each.And what will Sampson be looking for?“As long as I make it through warmups, I’m happy,” he told The Morning News. “In rehab I got to a point where I had to just get through that and not worry about it. I had to just think about getting to where every five days I could just go to work. I think mentally I’ve gotten through that.”

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