Kansas City Royals (9-8) at Cleveland Indians (8-10), 7:05 p.m. (ET)

04/21/2014 9:36 AM

04/21/2014 9:36 AM

It's early, but both the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians will have divisional positioning in mind on Monday night when they begin a four-game series at Progressive Field.

The Indians reached the American League playoffs with a wild-card berth out of the Central Division last season, helped in part by a July sweep of the Royals that gave them an edge in the standings that Kansas City was unable to overcome.

This series is the first time the teams have met since the Indians won 10 of 19 in 2013.

Cleveland had lost three in a row before a 6-4 defeat of Toronto on Sunday that was preceded by a pep talk from manager Terry Francona about the value of persistence in a long season.

"Nobody likes coming to the ballpark and look at your record when it's not what you want it to be," Francona said. "That's plain and simple. Saying that, I don't want them dragging in here, because it's a new day. During a baseball season there's a lot of grinding that needs to be done. That's simple fact. So when it's not going perfect, you grind the best you can."

Cleveland sends Zach McAllister to the mound in search of his third straight victory to begin 2014.

He allowed a single run in six innings of a 3-2 win at Detroit on Wednesday, which gave him a second straight victory after opening the season with a no- decision.

In three lifetime meetings with the Royals, he's 1-2 with a 5.60 earned run average.

Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie, meanwhile, is 4-3 with a 4.41 ERA in his career against the Indians.

Cleveland selected Guthrie 22nd overall in the 2002 draft and was his home when he reached the majors. He appeared in 16 big-league games and made his first career start in an Indians uniform.

Now 35 years old, he began last season with five straight wins before finishing with a career-best 15.

On Sunday in Kansas City, Trevor Plouffe went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and two RBI to lead the Minnesota Twins to an 8-3 win over the Royals, avoiding a sweep in the series finale of a three-game set.

Alcides Escobar was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and two runs scored and Omar Infante drove in one for Kansas City, which saw a five-game win streak come to a halt.

Starter Yordano Ventura (1-1) surrendered four runs over four-plus frames of work, fanning six and allowing four walks.

In Cleveland, David Murphy clubbed a go-ahead, three-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning to help the Indians salvage the finale of a three-game set with a defeat of the Blue Jays.

Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen each spun a scoreless inning in relief before John Axford wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to nail down his sixth save of the season.

Nick Swisher added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, while Michael Brantley went 2-for-3 with a solo home run, two RBI and two runs scored for the Tribe.

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