Game Preview: Kansas City vs. Cleveland
By Matt Van Wormer
The Indians look to sweep away the pesky Royals today as they take the field for an afternoon battle at Progressive Field. Last night’s game was full of excitement as Jim Thome hit his first home run in an Indians uniform since September 28th, 2002. It was his 335th Home Run as a member of the Tribe and it helped the Indians out in a game they had to win. Asdrubal Cabrera supplied some magic as well, hitting a three-run Homer that gave the Indians the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Chris Perez used a Houdini routine in the top of the ninth to slam the door shut on the Royals.
The Indians are still keeping pace with the Tigers and will hopefully get some help from the Twins today so they can gain some ground in the American League Central Division race. Hurling for Cleveland today, looking for the sweep, will be “The Big Nasty,” Justin Masterson (10-7, 2.83, 1.19 WHIP). While he had an abnormal outing last Tuesday, giving up five earned runs, the Indians were still able to pull out the victory in walk-off fashion. In three starts against the Royals this year, Masterson is 2-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 20.2 innings pitched. Melky Cabrera has been a thorn in Masterson’s side though, going 9 for 15 with a double and a Home Run. Silencing his bat will be key for Masterson as he goes for his 11th win of the season.
The Royals counter with Bruce Chen (9-5, 4.12, 1.38 WHIP) in the finale. Chen will be looking for his fifth win in as many decisions when he takes the bump today. In his one start against the Indians this year, Chen earned a victory, back on April 19th. Many of the Indians have had success against the southpaw but it has been in limited at-bats. Aggressive hitting will be the order of the day if the Indians want to continue to see positive results against Chen.
As the Indians go for the sweep today, they will continue to be scoreboard watchers to see if the Twins can help them out as they have been unable to gain any ground on the Tigers. After this game, the Indians will welcome the Oakland Athletics into town for a four game series to finish out August and start September. What would be really nice to see today are some early runs for a starting pitcher who is more than deserving of the support. Instead of looking for late inning heroics, giving the bullpen a rest and not putting the pressure on their shoulders would be a welcome sight.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images