Series Preview #9: Cleveland Indians (9-15) at Kansas City Royals (16-9)
Bob Toth | On 05, May 2015
It’s déjà vu all over again for the Cleveland Indians as they take on the Kansas City Royals for the second time in as many weeks. This time the location is different as the series moves to Kauffman Stadium, home of the Royals since 1973.
The Indians hit the road for a brief vacation from Cleveland after splitting a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays claimed a game one 5-1 win on Thursday as a five-run fourth gave the club all the runs they would need on the night. The Tribe bounced back Friday night with a 9-4 win as the Indians matched each Toronto score in the immediate half inning and then added some extra runs of their own in the fourth and fifth. The Indians bullpen made a manageable deficit a blowout on Saturday afternoon, as a 4-2 game when they entered in the sixth became an 11-4 loss. A six-run Toronto fourth inning on Sunday could have been Cleveland’s undoing, but the Indians responded back with six of their own in the fifth on the way to a 10-7 victory to avoid another series loss.
The Royals hosted the Detroit Tigers for a four-game series starting Thursday and saw the same results as the Tribe – a series split. They won an 8-1 final in the opener, scoring three in the third and five in the fifth. Their pitching again limited the Tigers bats to just one run and they took a no-hitter into the eighth inning on Friday in a 4-1 victory. The Tigers returned the favor on Saturday in a 2-1 KC loss, as David Price made the complete game effort. Detroit made a 6-0 lead at the halfway point stick and held on to a 6-4 win on Sunday in the series finale.
Tuesday, 5/5, 8:10 PM ET – RHP Danny Salazar (3-0, 3.32 ERA) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (2-1, 5.95)
Wednesday, 5/6, 8:10 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-2, 4.98) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (2-0, 3.45)
Thursday, 5/7, 2:10 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (0-4, 4.62) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (2-3, 2.10)
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Kansas City will each air the three-game set. The affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and KCSP 610 in Kansas City will handle radio calls for the series.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT GB STREAK
Detroit 17-9 .654 – W2
Kansas City 16-9 .640 0.5 L1
Minnesota 14-12 .538 3.0 W5
Cleveland 9-15 .375 7.0 W1
Chicago 8-14 .364 7.0 L5
Kansas City handled Cleveland at Progressive Field in the teams’ first meeting of the season last week. The Royals won the first two games before Salazar avoided the sweep on Wednesday.
The Indians maintain a 324-308 edge in the all-time series between the two teams. The Royals are 164-148 against the Indians when hosting Cleveland.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
Yan Gomes (C) – 15-day disabled list (April 12) – right MCL sprain
Tyler Holt (OF) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (May 5)
T.J. House (SP) – 15-day disabled list (May 1) – left shoulder inflammation
Nick Swisher (DH) – activated from 15-day disabled list and in Tuesday’s starting lineup (May 5)
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery
Lorenzo Cain (OF) – serving two-game suspension (appeal dropped May 3, will return May 6)
Tim Collins (RP) – 15-day disabled list (April 5) – recovery from March 2015 Tommy John surgery
Alcides Escobar (SS) – 7-day disabled list (April 30) – concussion
Kelvin Herrera (RP) – pending seven-game suspension currently being appealed
Luke Hochevar (RP) – 15-day disabled list (April 5) – recovery from March 2014 Tommy John surgery
Greg Holland (CL) – 15-day disabled list (April 18) – right pectoral strain, expected to be activated May 6
Kris Medlen (RP) – 60-day disabled list (March 7) – recovery from March 2014 Tommy John surgery
Alex Rios (RF) – 15-day disabled list (April 14) – broken left hand
Yordano Ventura (SP) – serving eight-game suspension (appeal dropped April 30)
Jason Kipnis has flourished in his return home after the team’s lengthy road trip and his move into the top spot in the lineup. He ended a long homer-less drought, going back to last July 31st, in the finale against the Royals on Wednesday and added two more shots over the weekend. He is hitting .344 with a .462 on-base percentage in his last eight games, all since moving into the leadoff spot, with those three home runs, seven runs batted in, and eight runs scored.
Ryan Raburn has flourished on the road and against left-handed pitching. He is hitting .400 on the season with a homer, seven doubles, and ten RBI. In six road games, he is hitting .462 with a .500 on-base percentage. He has been limited to just five at bats (with two strikeouts) against right-handers this season, but is hitting .457 against lefties.
Michael Brantley, in usual fashion, is tearing the cover off of the ball. He is hitting .450 in his last ten games with hits in eight of those games and multi-hit games in six of them. He hit 8-for-16 (.500) against the Blue Jays with a homer and six RBI, but was 2-for-11 in the previous series against the Royals. He is once again amongst the league leaders with a .352 average and .410 on-base percentage this season.
Salvador Perez is hitting .360 in the last week with nine hits and three runs batted in. It continues a hot start for the All-Star catcher, who is hitting .326 on the season with three homers and 15 RBI. He was 4-for-12 (.333) in his series against the Indians and 5-for-13 (.385) against the Tigers.
Mike Moustakas, who usually takes no mercy against the Indians, is hitting .355 in the last week with eleven hits and four RBI and .349 in his last ten. He had just three hits in 17 at bats against Detroit in his last series, but was 8-for-14 (.571) with seven singles, a double, and two RBI against Cleveland his first time against them this season. Three of the hits came off Kluber and another two off of Salazar. He has eleven career hits off of Kluber and a .440 average.
Eric Hosmer was 5-for-13 (.385) against the Tribe last week with a homer and three runs driven in. He has hits in six of his last seven contests. For the year, he has compiled a .313 average and a .396 on-base percentage to go with his three homers and 15 RBI. He is 6-for-12 against Salazar in his career with a homer.
Kendrys Morales has hit in 22 of his 25 games this season. His season-high eight game hitting streak ended Saturday against the Tigers. The switch-hitter is batting .314 on the season with a .364 OBP. He was 5-for-14 (.357) against the Indians last week with three singles, a double, a homer, five RBI, and scored four times in Tuesday’s game.
The Royals bullpen, already solid, is expected to see the return of closer Holland on Wednesday. The group has thrown 91 innings on the season and allowed a .152 average against them while posting a 1.00 ERA.
Salazar has limited current Royals players to a .227 average. He is 2-1 in three career starts in KC with a 3.50 ERA and is 3-3 in his career overall with a 5.45 ERA. Hosmer has done the most damage, while Perez has driven in four runs and Moustakas three with a homer.
Carrasco has fared even better against them, allowing a .200 average to the seven batters he has previously faced. Hosmer and Omar Infante have combined for six of the eleven hits he has allowed to the club. Alex Gordon is just 2-for-17 (.118) off of him with six strikeouts. It will be appearance number 13 of his career against KC, tied for the most against any one club in his career.
Kluber has struck out Gordon ten times in 30 plate appearances and Perez six times in 21 trips in the box. Despite his results the last time out, he is 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA in ten career starts against Kansas City with a complete game. Last season, he was 2-1 with a 1.15 ERA in four outings.
David Murphy and his career .083 average will likely not see the field against Vargas. Despite solid numbers against lefties this season, Raburn has also struggled against the lefty Royals vet, with just three hits (two doubles) in 22 at bats against him in his career. He is 4-3 against the Indians in ten career starts, including his win against them last Monday.
Brantley and Carlos Santana have seen the ball well against Duffy, with .375 and .368 averages respectively against the left-hander. Lonnie Chisenhall, however, may benefit from a day off against him. He is 0-for-7 with a walk and five strikeouts. He is 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA in seven career games against the Indians.
Only five Indians players have seen Volquez in action. Michael Bourn has more than half of those plate appearances, with a .294 career average, a pair of doubles, and three runs batted in. Brantley has a pair of singles. Brandon Moss is 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. It will be the fourth start of Volquez’s career against the Indians, who have beat him twice before while dealing him his second-worst ERA (12.19) in his career.
STARTING OFF THE RIGHT WAY
This Saturday, May 9th, will mark the 20-year anniversary of the Indians tying a Major League record by scoring eight runs in the first inning before their opponent retired a batter. The opponent on that day? The Kansas City Royals.
Orel Hershiser took the mound for his third start of the abbreviated 1995 season and retired the side in order in the first. After that, the fun was only beginning. Kenny Lofton led off the bottom of the frame with a leadoff home run off of Royals starter Doug Linton. Omar Vizquel walked and Carlos Baerga homered down the right field line. Singles by Albert Belle and Eddie Murray and a walk worked by Jim Thome loaded the bases for Manny Ramirez, who followed suit with a run-scoring walk of his own. The number eight hitter, Paul Sorrento, cleared the deck with a grand slam to right.
Tony Pena, the ninth hitter of the inning, stepped to the plate, still with nobody out and now an 8-0 advantage. He grounded out to end the run and after Lofton singled and was picked off, Vizquel flew out to center to end the onslaught.
Linton, surprisingly, would last five innings after settling down and would allow just two more runs in the second. Hershiser pitched eight innings for the easy 10-0 win, his first of the year, giving up just four hits and a walk. The first place Indians improved to 8-4 on the season, while the Royals fell two off the pace at 6-6.
Their short three-game roadtrip over, the Indians will return back home to start a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals in their first Interleague games of the season. The Royals will end their homestand and hit the road following the series for Detroit, where they will rematch the Tigers in three games over the weekend.
Photo: AP Photo/Phil Long