Who knew it would take the Cleveland Indians facing the Detroit Tigers to provide all of the slump busting power in the baseball world?
The Indians (13-12) continued to do their dance with the .500 mark, but also continued their incredible dominance over the Tigers through the first six games of the season. After sweeping the Detroit at the start of a nine-game road trip two weekends ago, the Indians stumbled through the remainder of the trip, dropping two of three to the Minnesota Twins before being swept by the Philadelphia Phillies. So of course, things went exactly as expected when the Indians returned home to face a scorching hot Detroit team and they swept the Tigers again.
It’s things like this week that make baseball fun. Or confusing. Or really irritating if you were the Tigers fan this week. But it’s baseball and it’s fun and now it’s on to the Royals.
The Royals (14-13) got a much needed day off on Thursday after dropping two of three to the National League East leading Washington Nationals during the week. The teams split the first two games, a 2-0 loss for KC on Monday and a 7-6 win on Tuesday, but the Nationals poured it on thick in a 13-2 shellacking on Wednesday to wrap up the series win. Kansas City has been outscored by eleven runs this season and has not played with the fervor that many had expected of their MLB title defense.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Friday, 5/6, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Yordano Ventura (2-1, 3.67 ERA) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (2-2, 2.40)
Saturday, 5/7, 4:10 PM ET – RHP Ian Kennedy (3-2, 2.61) vs. RHP Cody Anderson (0-1, 7.65)
Sunday, 5/8, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Edinson Volquez (3-2, 3.13) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (4-0, 3.13)
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); Fox Sports Kansas City (all games)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; KCSP 610 (KC broadcasts)
The Indians hold the head-to-head advantage over the Royals, 332-316, in 648 all-time contests. The two clubs first began play with one another when Kansas City received the expansion Royals for the 1969 season.
The Royals held the edge over the Indians last season, but just barely, taking ten games and dropping nine. That has been the trend over the last four years, as Kansas City has won 38 games and Cleveland has won 37. The Tribe has won ten of the last 12 season series from Kansas City, but the Royals were 6-4 at Progressive Field in 2015.
Cody Anderson (SP) – will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus (May 7)
Carlos Carrasco (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 25) – left hamstring strain
Chris Gimenez (C) – acquired in a trade from the Texas Rangers (May 4)
Adam Moore (C) – designated for assignment (May 4)
Roberto Perez (C) – 15-day disabled list (May 1) – right thumb injury
Tim Collins (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 3) – recovery from March 2015 Tommy John surgery
Jarrod Dyson (OF) – 15-day disabled list (March 25) – right oblique strain
Terrance Gore (OF) – optioned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas (May 5)
Mike Minor (SP) – 60-day disabled list (March 15) – recovery from May 2015 left labrum surgery
Jason Vargas (SP) – 60-day disabled list (February 19) – recovery from August 2015 Tommy John surgery
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Royals focused primarily on the pitching staff in the offseason after losing Johnny Cueto and Ryan Madson in free agency. They added Kennedy to the starting rotation, but the one-time 21-game winner is five years removed from the best year of his career. He has started just one game at Progressive Field, a no-decision on April 26, 2008, while a member of the New York Yankees. The Indians won the game in the bottom of the ninth on a bases loaded walk-off single by Victor Martinez to score Travis Hafner.
Kennedy has made just two career starts against the Indians, posting no record with a 4.85 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, allowing seven runs on 12 hits with ten strikeouts and five walks in 13 innings. The latter start came in 2011 while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Royals also added a few new faces to their bullpen, including their former closer Joakim Soria, another former Yankees prospect, Chien-Ming Wang, and Dillon Gee.
…AND OLD FACES
The Royals offense has struggled this year, but Eric Hosmer has had a good start. He is hitting .333 through his first 27 games, including an 18-game hitting streak and a 23-game on-base streak to start the year. He has reached base successfully in 26 of his 27 games played.
Salvador Perez leads the club with 14 RBI, but is hitting .241 through 26 games. Lorenzo Cain, an MVP candidate and All-Star in 2015, is hitting .232 with just two extra base hits (both homers) and ten RBI while striking out 31 times. Alex Gordon, who returned on a big contract in the offseason, is hitting .211 with three doubles, two homers, five RBI, and a team-leading 34 strikeouts. Kendrys Morales is batting .200 with five doubles, two homers, eight RBI, and 24 Ks.
VENTURA OWNS PROGRESSIVE
In four career starts at Progressive Field, Friday’s starter Ventura is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA. With his three home starts, the 24-year-old right-hander is a combined 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in seven career starts against the Indians, including a no-decision in his Major League debut in 2013.
LINDOR AVOIDING SOPHOMORE SLUMP
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is hitting .299 for the year. He was 4-for-12 (.333) in the series with the Tigers with a double, homer, and three runs batted in.
Left fielder Michael Brantley had a breakout series against the Tigers after starting the season 2-for-17. He was 6-for-12 in the series against Detroit with a double and five RBI, including at least one hit and one RBI in each game of the series with the Tigers.
KIPNIS A KEY
Jason Kipnis was 4-for-12 (.333) in the series with Detroit with four hits, all singles, and four runs scored.
When the series wraps between Cleveland and Kansas City, the Indians will depart for Houston for a three-game series with the Astros beginning Monday night. The Royals will continue their road trip with four games at Yankee Stadium before returning home to Kauffman Stadium for their next homestand.
Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images