KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Whit Merrifield knows the Kansas City Royals will have to bring their A-game to complete a sweep of the first-place Cleveland Indians.
The Royals edged out the Indians by one run in each of the first two games and will go for the series sweep Wednesday night.
"They're a really good team," said Merrifield, who has homered in the first two games. "We're going to have to be clicking on all cylinders, put together some good at-bats, get some clutch hits, pitch well, play good defense and run the bases smart. If we do all those things, we're in pretty good shape. Against a team like Cleveland, you can't make many mistakes, so hopefully we can play a clean game."
Why are the Indians so good?
"They have it all," Merrifield said. "They have good starting pitching, a good bullpen, their lineup is tough, they are scrappy, they're fast. They've got guys that can hit for power. They play solid defense. They do it all.
"I think they are a very similar team to what we are. When you play a team like that you have to grind out at-bats and grind out innings, play at the top of your game and hope you come out with a win."
So far the Royals have been at the top of their game. They have won four in a row after snapping an eight-game losing streak Saturday.
Bryan Shaw absorbed the loss Tuesday, giving up a two-run homer to Salvador Perez with two out in the eighth. In his past three appearances, Shaw is 0-2 and his earned run average has jumped from 4.63 to 5.68.
Manager Terry Francona, however, is reluctant to remove Shaw from his eighth inning role.
"I don't want an alternative," Francona said of replacing Shaw as the primary setup man. "He went like 24 innings without giving up an earned run, now he's had three (bad) outings. That would not be a smart move on my part. He's been a good pitcher for us. His stuff is good. We can't run away from a guy when he has a tough week. It doesn't make sense to me."
Shaw's blown save deprived Josh Tomlin, who had held the Royals to one run over seven innings, of picking up his ninth victory.
"It's very frustrating," Shaw said. "He pitched his butt off. He kept us right where we needed to be all the game. He got us the opportunity to win the ball game. I couldn't hold it, doing my job. It sucks for him, obviously."
Right-hander Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner, draws the Indians starting assignment for the series finale. Kluber is 4-2 with a 2.96 ERA in seven road starts this season. He threw a complete-game to beat the Angels 6-2 in his previous start, allowing two runs on three hits, while striking out eight and walking one.
Perez has been baffled by Kluber by going 4-for-25 (.160) while shortstop Alcides Escobar is 8-for-42, .190, with no RBIs.
Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy gave up a career-high four home and allowed seven runs in a 7-5 loss Friday to the Chicago White Sox. He has lost his past three decisions and has not won since May 7 when he won at Cleveland. Kennedy has a 1.46 ERA in four starts this season at Kauffman Stadium.