CLEVELAND — The Kansas City Royals believe they are in the American League playoff chase to stay. They might start convincing others, too.
The Royals gained ground in the wild card race on Wednesday with a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. Kansas City won two of three in the series between clubs that are in contention for the second wild card spot in the AL.
The Royals, who entered Wednesday trailing Tampa Bay by three games, moved a game closer to the Indians. Cleveland came in 1½ games behind the Rays.
“To come in here and win a series against a tough Cleveland team was huge for us,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Especially considering where we are at this point of the season. Losses hurt now. You’ve got to try to really keep them at a minimum if you can.”
Alex Gordon homered on the game’s first pitch, and James Shields dominated after a shaky first inning for the Royals, who have won 13 of 18.
“These guys have develoThe Royals had a home run, a triple and a single within the game’s first seven pitches to take a 2-0 lead. Kansas City added another run in the first inning.
Shields (11-9) gave up two runs, two hits, and hit a batter in the bottom half before he took control.
Michael Brantley had a two-run single in the first, but Shields didn’t allow another hit until Jason Kipnis’ leadoff single in the ninth. He retired 16 of 17 going into the ninth, but was removed after allowing singles to Kipnis and Carlos Santana.
Shields allowed four hits, struck out seven and walked one. Greg Holland retired the last three hitters for his 42nd save.
Gordon jumped on a 90 mph fastball from Scott Kazmir (8-8) and lined it into the seats in right field for his 13th career leadoff homer.
“It’s not my first rodeo, so I’ve done it before,” Gordon said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to mix it up, especially with Kazmir with his electric stuff.”
“He said he was going to do it,” Yost said. “He picks his spots.”
Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain added RBI singles.
The Indians won the first game of the series and finished 5-4 on their homestand, but failed to gain ground in the playoff chase for the second straight day. Cleveland will begin a seven-game trip in Chicago on Thursday. The Indians and Royals meet again in Kansas City next week for a three-game series.