Series Preview #50: Kansas City Royals (84-70) at Cleveland Indians (81-74)
Bob Toth | On 22, Sep 2014
It is hard to believe but the final week of the 2014 Major League Baseball regular season is upon us.
In a manner just like last season, everything that needs to happen for the Cleveland Indians (81-74) to keep in contention has happened. While they are hanging on by a thread in the playoff races with seven games left to complete, their chances in the AL Central are all but gone, but no one is running away with the AL Wild Card spots. Of the five teams still in consideration for the two spots available, just two, Cleveland and Kansas City, have winning records in September. The two will do battle this week, with their respective seasons on the line.
The Indians pulled within three and a half games of the Royals in the Wild Card and four games within the Oakland Athletics by taking two of three from the Minnesota Twins over the weekend. They lost a heartbreaker on Friday night, as a blown Cody Allen save in the ninth and a walk-off single in the tenth gave Minnesota a 5-4 win. A rare offensive explosion in each of the next two games gave the Indians a 7-3 win on Saturday, powered by four RBI from Yan Gomes, and a 7-2 win on Sunday afternoon behind 14 strikeouts from Corey Kluber.
The Royals (84-70) had a chance this weekend to reclaim the top seat in the AL Central, but dropped two games to the Detroit Tigers before salvaging the finale on Sunday. The Tigers hit and scored early and often in a 19-hit, ten run shellacking of the Royals on Friday, 10-1. Detroit defeated Big Game James Shields in a 3-2 win on Saturday. The Royals recovered on Sunday, winning 5-2, to pull back within a game and a half of the front-running Tigers.
Before Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 2.65 ERA) will get the chance to host the Royals on Monday night, the suspended game from Kansas City on August 31st will resume at 6:05 PM ET. The score is 4-2 in the bottom of the tenth inning with Mike Moustakas, Erik Kratz, and Alcides Escobar the scheduled hitters and Kyle Crockett on the mound to start the inning.
Carrasco will take the mound at approximately 7:05 PM ET, pending the outcome of the first game. It will be his first start since his complete game, two-hit, 12-strikeout, 98-pitch shutout of Houston in his last outing. Left-hander Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42) will make his first start since leaving his last outing against New York after just one pitch with left rotator cuff inflammation. He is 0-1 this season in four games against the Indians.
A pair of young fireballers will match up on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. Danny Salazar (6-7, 4.02) will take the ball for the Tribe. Salazar is 2-1 against the Royals this season with a 3.86 ERA, but both wins came at Kauffman Stadium. Yordano Ventura (13-10, 3.19) continues his stellar rookie campaign. He has won four of his last five decisions and is coming off of a three-hit performance over seven innings in a win against Chicago. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
In Wednesday’s 7:10 PM ET finale, Trevor Bauer (5-8, 4.06) and Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.59) will go toe to toe. Bauer is 0-1 in two starts this season against KC with a 2.45 ERA, but both starts were on the road where he has struggled all season with a 1-5 record and 4.87 ERA. The left-handed Vargas has lost five of his last six starts, including August 29th against Cleveland when he allowed four runs on ten hits in six innings of work.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Kansas City will broadcast the three games this week. MLB Network will also air Monday evening’s contest while ESPN will show Wednesday night’s game. Radio broadcasts of the series will be available on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Kansas City Royals Radio Network.
The Indians own a 322-304 record against the Royals all-time. This includes a 174-140 mark at home in Cleveland.
They took each of the first two games in Kansas City the last time the two clubs met, with the final game of the series being suspended. The Indians have a three-game winning streak against the Royals and have a 9-7 edge on KC this season. They are 5-2 against them at Progressive Field this season.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis is nursing a sore right hamstring. He was replaced in the lineup for the suspended game and was not in the starting lineup for Monday’s opener.
The Royals recalled reliever Tim Collins from Triple-A on Friday.
Christian Colon is on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right middle finger. Pitchers Luke Hochevar (Tommy John surgery) and Michael Mariot (right hamstring strain) are out for the rest of the season.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
Can anyone stop Michael Brantley? His fantastic season continued over the weekend as he extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Nine of those games have been multi-hit efforts. He has hit safely in 24 of his last 25 games while batting .412, including hits in all but one game in the month of September. He has not been distracted by the left-handed Duffy or the righty Ventura in his career, hitting .385 against each in 13 at bats with a pair of RBI.
Carlos Santana has six hits in 16 at bats against Duffy lifetime, a .375 average, and five hits in 13 at bats against Ventura, good for a .417 batting average. Two of the hits against Duffy have been for extra bases, including a triple and a home run, while he has a pair of home runs and four runs batted in against Ventura.
Gomes has a .500 batting mark against Duffy in his career with a double, a home run, and a pair of RBI.
Kluber was named American League Player of the Week for this past week. He was 2-0 in two starts with a 1.80 ERA while striking out 28 batters with back-to-back 14 strikeouts performances.
The Royals’ Billy Butler has owned two of the starters in the series for the Indians. He has six hits, including three doubles, in ten at bats (.600) against Salazar with a pair of RBI. He is 7-for-17 (.412) against Carrasco with two home runs and four runs batted in.
Eric Hosmer has four hits (two doubles) in six career at bats (.667) against Salazar.
Shortstop Escobar has fared well against all three Tribe starters for this series. He has four hits and two RBI in ten at bats (.400) against Carrasco. He has hit .444 against Salazar with four singles in nine at bats and has two hits in three at bats (.667) against Bauer.
Catcher Salvador Perez has done poorly against the trio, with one hit in six at bats (.167) against Bauer, one hit in seven at bats (.143) against Carrasco, and one hit in ten at bats (.100) against Salazar.
FARR FARR AWAY
Steve Farr’s career with the Cleveland Indians was hardly noteworthy. He is more often remembered by Indians fans for his actions against the Indians on October 4th, 1991.
On that day in New York, Farr was a member of the Yankees and came on in relief for Lee Guetterman in the top of the ninth inning with the Bombers leading the Tribe, 2-1. With Reggie Jefferson on at first, Farr retired Jerry Browne on a fly ball to center. To the plate stepped rookie third baseman Jim Thome, wearing his then number six on his back and, on a 0-1 pitch, sent a monstrous home run to the empty third deck in right field for his first career home run, giving the Indians a 3-2 lead. The late Steve Olin retired the three batters he faced in the bottom of the inning for the save.
Farr was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but made his Major League debut with the Indians in 1984, going 3-11 in 31 games, including 16 starts, while posting a 4.58 ERA. He was released prior to the 1985 season and signed with the Royals in May and spent six years there before joining the Yankees for three from 1991 to 1993.
He rejoined the Indians at the age of 37 in the strike-shortened 1994 season, appearing in 19 games in relief with a 5.28 ERA before being traded to the Boston Red Sox, where he went 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA before the season abruptly ended.
The Indians will take Thursday off before starting their final series of the regular season when the Tampa Bay Rays come to town for a three-game set. The Royals will head to US Cellular Field in Chicago for four games with the White Sox, but will miss Chris Sale.
Photo: AP Photo/Jim Mone