Originally written September 21, 2012 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
(AP) -- The Cleveland Indians are in a much different race than they'd hoped, and pride is giving them enough motivation. It may also be a factor in trying to avoid their longest slide against the Kansas City Royals in 34 years. The Indians hope to end Friday night out of the AL Central cellar and snap a five-game skid to the Royals in the opener of this three-game series at Kauffman Stadium. Cleveland (62-88) emerged from the All-Star break to beat Toronto on July 13, sitting three games back of division-leading Chicago. The Indians have been in a tailspin ever since, going 17-47 while dropping 27 of 34 on the road. Instead of competing for the top spot in the Central, Cleveland is tied with Minnesota at the bottom of the division and is trying to avoid its first last-place finish since 1991 in the AL East. "No one wants to finish last," manager Manny Acta said. "It's a pride thing. ... It just doesn't sound good." The Indians moved out of sole possession of last place Thursday, beating the Twins 4-3 on Casey Kotchman's bases-loaded single in the 10th inning. "It's nice to get on this flight with a win," said Kotchman, who went 3 for 5 with two RBIs. "Winning makes everything a little bit better." Cleveland hasn't done any of that in the last five meetings with the Royals (68-81), losing each while compiling a 6.45 ERA - 11.03 from its starters. The Indians last dropped six straight to Kansas City in 1978. Justin Masterson (11-14, 4.93 ERA) was hit hard in his last matchup against the Royals, an 8-2 defeat on May 29. He surrendered seven runs in the first two innings and gave up another before exiting after the sixth. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 4.09 ERA in eight games - seven starts - against Kansas City. Masterson enters this meeting looking to avoid a third straight losing start and match his career high in wins from last year. He was reached for four runs - two earned - and six hits over 4 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss to Detroit on Saturday. The Royals are batting .310 with 11 stolen bases during their winning streak over the Indians, and enter this series with momentum after Eric Hosmer's walkoff single beat Chicago 4-3 Thursday. Alex Gordon is 5 for 11 in his last three games overall and is batting .457 (16 for 35) with two homers and eight RBIs in the past eight meetings with the Indians. He's 11 for 27 (.407) with a homer and three doubles off Masterson. Luis Mendoza (7-9, 4.50) is scheduled to return to the rotation for the Royals after missing his last start with strep throat. The right-hander last took the mound Sept. 13 in a 4-3, 10-inning loss at Minnesota, where he allowed one run with six strikeouts in six innings. He's 0-1 with a 5.61 ERA in his last six starts, but 3-0 with a 4.40 ERA in his last five at home with all of them ending in Royals victories. That stretch includes a 5-2 win over Cleveland on Aug. 1, when he yielded two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. Billy Butler's next RBI will make him the first Royal with 100 since Carlos Beltran's 100 in 2003.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Giants shut out Pirates, advance to NLDS

Cowboys' Spillman accused of rape at team hotel

Report: Patriots benched WR for mouthing off to coach

Jose Bautista busts up reporter over Twitter

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Larry Donnell benches himself in fantasy, loses because of it

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Josh Gordon says NFL’s drug policy is harrassment

Steve Smith: Ron Rivera hid in his office after cutting me

Rondo hoping for an opening night return from broken hand

Jon Gruden on Raiders job: 'I'm not thinking about coaching'

Tom Brady defends not congratulating Garoppolo on TD

Ohio State student who ran on field loses full scholarship

Belichick repeats moving 'on to Cincinnati' during presser

Donald Sterling’s wife called the cops on V. Stiviano

Byron Scott explains why Kobe wouldn't make a good coach

WATCH: Mayweather shocked someone doesn’t know who he is

Who is the new face of MLB?

NHL 15 predicts the LA Kings win the Cup again

J.J. Watt buys his mom a new car for her birthday

Ranking the NFL coaches already sitting on the hot seat

WATCH: Smith tells Panthers to go home and mow his lawn

The best games on the NFL slate in Week 5

Aaron Rodgers says smoking gesture a tribute to Jay Cutler

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Scott: Kobe would not be a good coach

Pats WR benched for mouthing off?

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Donnell benches himself in fantasy and loses

Gordon: Drug policy is harrassment

Who is the new face of baseball?

Steve Smith blasts Panthers coach, GM

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

All-Disappointment Team in MLB

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision

WATCH: Brett Favre in new commercial

Brady snubs rookie after TD pass

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.