In the tight American League Central race between Kansas City and Detroit, don't forget Cleveland.
That's the message the Indians got through loudly and clearly with their 6-1 win at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night. A win on Saturday would ensure a series victory over the Royals and cut their deficit in the division to just 3 1/2 games.
If the Tribe is to continue its August push into the month's final Saturday, it'll need a better performance on the road out of right-hander Trevor Bauer.
It's been a tale of two pitchers when it comes to Bauer's home-road splits this season. He's 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA at Progressive Field, but he is 1-5 with a 5.81 ERA away from its confines. Bauer failed to make it out of the fifth inning in each of his last two road outings.
Bauer's last start came in Cleveland, and the trend stuck.
"We have our work cut out for us," manager Terry Francona said after Bauer's last outing, in which he struck out nine. "But, if we pitch like that, we'll give ourselves a chance."
Royals starter James Shields is coming off just his second defeat since the All-Star break. He allowed six runs on 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Yankees.
Shields' season has been a streaky one. Since July 7, he's 4-3 with a 2.63 ERA. But in the eight starts prior to this stretch, his ERA was 5.66.
In his last start, Shields was troubled, as he has been all season and most of his career, by the long ball. Martin Prado hit the 185th career home run off Shields.
"For the last month or so, I think I've been pitching pretty well, for the most part. I had a little hiccup today, but that's part of the game," Shields said. "Sometimes you get hit."
Indians: Gomes back from seven-day DL
Catcher Yan Gomes went 2-for-4 at the plate in his return from the seven-day concussion disabled list for the start of the Indians' crucial series with the Royals on Friday night.
Francona declared Gomes "good to go" before the game.
"There's a lot of protocols -- he was examined last night, then they send it on to the league -- and it's pretty advanced, which it should be," Francona said.
Royals: Infante about ready to return
The hope was that second baseman Omar Infante would be back in the Royals' lineup for the series opener, but that didn't happen.
However, manager Ned Yost anticipates that Infante's sore right shoulder will be OK for Saturday night's middle game.
"He came out [Thursday] and took some ground balls and made some throws, but still felt it a little bit in the front," Yost said. "Which is OK. The majority of the pain was in the back and that's all gone. But we just thought we'd take the opportunity to give him one more day [on Friday]."
Infante has been out of the starting lineup for the last four games.
• Kansas City reliever Aaron Crow, optioned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to clear roster space on Wednesday, gave up a home run, but he still picked up the win for his two innings of work against Tulsa on Thursday.
• Following Friday's win, the Indians are a season-high five games above .500.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.