The Cleveland Indians' chances at a second straight playoff appearance seemed all but gone last week.
They could find themselves in the thick of the hunt again after Monday night, when they open a three-game series with the visiting Kansas City Royals after completing a suspended game from last month.
The Indians (81-74) were five games out of a wild-card spot after a 3-1 loss in Houston on Sept. 15, their fourth straight defeat. They've since won five of six to pull within 3 1/2 games of the Royals (84-70), and could be 2 1/2 back when Monday's originally scheduled contest begins.
These clubs will first resume a game that was suspended in Kansas City in the bottom of the 10th on Aug. 31 with Cleveland leading 4-2.
"We know what's at stake," said Michael Bourn, who was 3 for 5 in Sunday's 7-2 win at Minnesota.
The Indians lead the season series 8-7 and have received big contributions from Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana. Brantley, who is 22 for 49 during a 12-game hitting streak, has hit .392 in his last 11 matchups with Kansas City, and Santana has seven home runs with 15 RBIs in the series.
Cleveland has limited opponents to 13 runs during its 5-1 stretch and could get another stingy performance from Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 2.65 ERA) on the hill. Carrasco is 5-1 with a 1.17 ERA in eight starts since rejoining the rotation.
He struck out a career-high 12 in his third career complete game in a 2-0 win at Houston on Wednesday, throwing a two-hitter and joining Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers to strike out 12 on 98 pitches or fewer in a shutout.
The right-hander was 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four April starts before moving to the bullpen.
"They put me back in the rotation and gave me the opportunity," Carrasco said. "I don't want to let it pass. I have a different mentality."
Carrasco is 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA in 11 games - six starts - versus Kansas City. He owns a 2.92 ERA in the last six meetings, though five of those appearances came in relief.
The Royals (84-70) are 1 1/2 games in front of Seattle for the second wild-card spot after avoiding a sweep Sunday with a 5-2 win over Detroit.
"Today's game shows that we're not going away," manager Ned Yost said.
Billy Butler was 2 for 4 after going 2 for 32 in his previous 10 contests. He's 7 for 17 with two home runs against Carrasco.
Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42 ERA) will pitch for the first time since Sept. 6, when he exited after one pitch against the Yankees due to a sore shoulder. He had been 3-3 with a 1.87 ERA in his 10 prior starts.
The left-hander had no issues during a simulated game Tuesday, according to MLB's official website.
"I'm itching to get back out there and get going," Duffy said.
Duffy started the suspended game against Cleveland, giving up one earned run in 6 2-3 innings. He's 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in six career games against the Indians, including five starts.
Six of Mike Moustakas' 15 home runs this season have come against Cleveland.