With their ace on the mound facing the Indians, the Royals have a chance to get their record back to .500 after a 5-3 victory against the Rays on Sunday. With wins in its last four series, Kansas City has come back from a season-high nine games below .500.
The Royals also have a chance to make a move in the American League Central, where they're behind Cleveland by a half-game (five games back overall). This is the closest they've been to first place after 67 games since 2003, when they were two games behind Minnesota.
James Shields is winless since April 30, but the Royals have won his last three starts as he's given up just five runs in 21 innings. He is 2-6 this season with a 2.79 ERA.
"The only thing that is frustrating for me is that our team hasn't won many games when I've been out there," Shields said before his last start. "The last couple games, we've won when I've been out there, and that is all that matters to me."
History shows that Monday's opponent may not be the best opportunity for a victory though, as Shields is 1-5 with a 3.99 ERA in his career against the Indians.
Shields has gone seven or more innings in all 14 starts this season, and he went seven innings in his last start, giving up seven hits and only two earned runs without a decision.
"Shields pitched his tail off," manager Ned Yost said after the Royals' game against the Tigers. "Seven strong innings [and] they only hit two balls hard off him all day."
The Indians hand the ball to Carlos Carrasco, who is 0-2 with a 15.26 ERA. This will be his first game following a seven-game suspension he received for intentionally throwing at New York's Kevin Youkilis.
Carrasco's last start was on June 8 in Detroit, where he gave up six runs in four innings.
The Royals and Indians split their first series, with Kansas City taking the first two games and Cleveland taking the second two.
Kansas City: Former Rays helping Royals improve
Infielder Elliot Johnson caused trouble for his former teammates with seven hits in the Royals' series with the Rays. He is batting .252 with two home runs and eight RBIs this season.
Johnson was a part of a high-profile trade last season that sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City in exchange for four prospects.
All three players from the trade have contributed to the Royals success against the Rays, as Shields won his start earlier in the season, Johnson hit a three-run homer on Thursday and Davis won his start on Sunday.
Cleveland: Kipnis collects 15th stolen base
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis swiped his 15th stolen base of the season in a 2-0 victory against Washington on Sunday.
Kipnis has 51 stolen bases in his MLB career and ranks fifth in the AL in the category this season. He's only been caught stealing five times this year.
Kipnis is batting .270 with nine homers and 34 RBIs this year.
• Jeff Francoeur hit a solo home run in the fifth inning, which was only his third of the season. He finished with 20 and 16 in his previous two seasons with the Royals.
• Carlos Santana moved up to third on the team with 30 RBIs with a run-scoring single against Washington.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.