Game #16 – Kansas City Royals (3-14) vs. Cleveland Indians (9-6)

By Matthew Van Wormer

When we all went to bed last night, the Indians were tied for 2nd place in the A.L. Central with the Detroit Tigers. While we were sleeping, the Oakland Athletics took down the Chicago White Sox propelling the Tribe and Tigers into a three way tie for the Central Division lead. It is very early in the season but after a 1-4 start, it hasn’t taken long for the Indians to assert themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Cleveland will look for their ninth win in 11 games tonight against a Royals team that has lost 12 straight. They are the sixth team in the history of baseball to lose 12 straight games before the end of April.

The Indians hitters will be facing off against Luke Hochevar (1-1, 5.87 ERA) who barely survived the first inning the last time he pitched against the Indians. It was Kansas City’s home opener and it opened in the worst way possible for the Royals. Cleveland hitters teed off for seven runs in the first frame, scoring all they would need to earn the victory, 8-3. That day was also the start of the Indians two-out scoring barrage that has been going ever since. With two outs, and up 2-0, the Indians plated five more runs before the final out was made.

Shin-Soo Choo and Jack Hannahan are the two big bats to watch tonight for the Tribe. In their careers, combined, they are 22 for 38 against Hochevar (.579 Batting Average) with seven doubles and five home runs to go along with 18 RBI. It will be interesting to see how Hochevar goes after these two hitters as well as the rest of the Tribe. If Choo can’t play due to the tight hamstring that took him out of last night’s game, look for Asdrubal Cabrera to contribute as he has also had some success (8 for 22) against the right hander.

Taking the pill for the Indians will be Ubaldo Jimenez (2-0, 4.00) who looks to join Derek Lowe in the “Three Win Club.” Jimenez has a big problem going into tonight’s game and that is his control and pitch efficiency. He is walking far too many batters and he is using a ton of pitches which is putting some added pressure on the bullpen every time he pitches. His last outing was better but he still walked five hitters to only three strikeouts. He is still averaging over 17 pitches per inning and has at least three walks in each of his outings. ESPN is currently projecting Jimenez to walk 119 and strike out 119. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that 1/1 is not a good ratio.

A win tonight would get the Indians to 10 wins and keep them atop the Central standings for another day. Hopefully, attendance for tonight’s game will be a little more than the 9,137 that were announced last night. Great tickets are there for the taking so come down and join the team at 7:05 at Progressive Field.

Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Michael Brantley, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Carlos Santana, C
4. Travis Hafner, DH
5. Shelley Duncan, LF
6. Jack Hannahan, 3B
7. Jason Kipnis, 2B
8. Casey Kotchman, 1B
9. Aaron Cunningham, RF

Kansas City Royals Starting Lineup
1. Chris Getz, 2B
2. Alex Gordon, LF
3. Billy Butler, DH
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Humberto Quintero, C
8. Mitch Maier, CF
9. Alcides Escobar, SS

Photo: Getty Images

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