The Indians and Royals are even through 10 games this season. While Cleveland holds a 3 1/2-game lead over Kansas City for second place in the American League Central, the Royals have been competitive in the season series, recently winning their three-game set last week at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals will look for newly minted starter Bruce Chen to give them an edge as he makes his first start of the season on Friday against right-hander Corey Kluber and the Indians.
Chen is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 19 relief outings this season, including 85 pitches in 3 1/3 innings after Luis Mendoza's 1 2/3-inning start against the A's on Sunday. He took Mendoza's spot in the rotation and is now Kansas City's only left-handed starter.
"Rough outing, really, for our pitching staff," manager Ned Yost said Sunday. "Bruce got us through 3 1/3 innings, but got his pitch count up real high."
Chen has been the Royals' long reliever with five appearances of three or more innings. However, he's no stranger to the rotation, starting 91 games for Kansas City from 2009-12. He won 35 games from 2010-12 and led the team in wins in each of the past three seasons.
He's 6-3 against the Indians over 17 career appearances (10 starts) with a 4.73 ERA. He's faced the Tribe three times this season, allowing just two runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Kluber will make his third start against the Royals this season and 14th overall for Cleveland. He's pitched 12 1/3 innings against Kansas City, allowing six earned runs for a 4.38 ERA.
He received a no-decision in his last start, a 9-6 Cleveland win against Detroit on Saturday, when he allowed two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He matched a career-high 10 strikeouts in the game.
"He stayed ahead in the count," Indians manager Terry Francona said after Saturday's game. "He was aggressive. He was really good. When you start throwing in with your best velocity, that's very impressive."
The Indians are coming off a series win against the Toronto Blue Jays, taking the opener and finale. Despite losing six of their past 10, they've won eight out of their past 14 games.
The Royals have lost two straight, coming off a split four-game series against the Yankees. Kansas City slipped to three games under .500, and it's 2-2 on a seven-game road trip before the All-Star break.
Royals: Joseph makes big league debut
Left-hander Donnie Joseph made his Major League debut in the seventh inning of Thursday's 8-4 loss against the Yankees, facing three batters and getting a lineout while giving up a walk and a single. He threw 10 pitches, six for strikes.
Joseph was recalled from Triple-A Omaha when right-hander Wade Davis was placed on paternity leave.
Joseph, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound relief pitcher, made 31 appearances out of the bullpen for the Storm Chasers with a 3-3 record, a 3.55 ERA and three saves. He was riding a streak of five straight scoreless appearances dating back to June 25, which spanned 8 2/3 innings.
Indians: Salazar wins first career start
Indians right-hander Danny Salazar made his Major League debut on Thursday against the Blue Jays, allowing one run on two hits in six innings to pick up the win in Cleveland's 4-2 victory. He also had seven strikeouts and one walk.
Salazar was recalled from Triple-A Columbus hours before Wednesday's game. He went 5-5 with a 3.08 ERA in 17 starts between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
• Asdrubal Cabrera hit his first homer since June 29, going deep in the first inning against the Blue Jays on Thursday.
• Royals catcher Salvador Perez missed Wednesday's game with tightness in his right leg, but he returned on Thursday and went 1-for-4.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.