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Indians Vs. Royals: Justin Masterson Goes For 3rd Straight Quality Start

Justin Masterson will try to keep things rolling, and Will Smith will try to keep his job.

The Cleveland Indians will send Masterson to hill in game two of a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals. Masterson has pedestrian numbers on the season -- 2-3 with a 4.62 ERA -- but he has come on of late. He has gone 7.0 innings in each of his last two starts and given up a total of three earned runs. He has had "quality starts" in five of his last six.

KC's Smith can claim no such streak. He was called up from the minors last week and was shelled in his first career big-league start against the New York Yankees. He lasted just 3.1 innings and gave up five earned runs and three homers. In nine starts in triple-A Omaha, Smith was 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA.

After being swept over the weekend by the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland's AL Central lead has been sliced to 0.5 games. But two more games against the lowly Royals, followed by a three-game series with the lowlier Minnesota Twins, could help the Tribe get back on the track.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:05 Eastern.

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Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.