Rainy weather in Cleveland ended the Indians’ series with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, with the club losing two of three to their in-state Major League brothers before the postponement pushed their next meeting into late June. The poor results dropped the Indians’ record in interleague play to 1-5 on the season. They will return to a more familiar schedule and opponent beginning Friday night when they host the division rival Kansas City Royals in three games this weekend.
The Indians (24-21) head into play in second place in the American League Central, trailing the first place Minnesota Twins by two games in the standings while holding a two and a half game lead over the third place Detroit Tigers. The Indians will need a series win to stay above the .500 mark against the division this season, as they start the three-game set with an 11-10 record against the Central this season.
The Royals (19-27) split a rain-shortened series with the New York Yankees after their finale on Thursday was washed out as well. The tough season for KC has been marred by a disastrous start within the division – they are 4-14 against Chicago, Cleveland, and Minnesota this season and have yet to play Detroit. They have turned it around some this month, posting a 12-11 record in May, but have still managed to be outscored by the opposition 99-90 in those 23 games. They have dropped six of their last nine games.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Friday, 5/26, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Ian Kennedy (0-4, 4.06 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (2-1, 1.56)
Kennedy spent eleven days on the disabled list earlier in the month while dealing with a strained right hamstring. This will be his second start since his return; he allowed three hits, three walks, and five runs in just two innings in his first start back against Minnesota. He faced the Indians six times last season and earned a decision in every outing, going 2-4 with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP over a span of 37 1/3 innings.
Clevinger will make his fourth start of the season on Friday and his second against the Royals. He limited them to just one hit in five and two-thirds scoreless innings in his season debut on May 7, but walked four in the win. He threw seven innings of scoreless two-hit baseball in his last start on May 20 in a win in Houston over the Astros. He has allowed just six hits in 17 1/3 innings of work this season. He is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP against the Royals in three career games (two starts).
Saturday, 5/27, 4:10 PM ET – LHP Jason Vargas (5-3, 2.30) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (3-4, 5.55)
Vargas had allowed just five earned runs on the year and brought a 1.01 ERA into his May 17 matchup at home against the New York Yankees before giving up six runs on seven hits in just four innings. He faced the Yankees again in his next start, giving the club a quality start despite taking his second straight loss. He allowed three runs in that outing on four hits in six innings. He is 6-3 in 14 career starts against the Indians with a 4.33 ERA and limited them to just four hits and no runs in one start against them this season.
Salazar’s season-long roller coaster ride continued in his last start, when he allowed three runs on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts, but he was unable to complete the sixth inning in his win over Houston. He had allowed 12 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings in his first three starts in May. He enters his matchup with the Royals with a 7-6 record against them in 13 starts lifetime with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He lost his first game against them in May, allowing two runs on eight hits in just four and two-thirds innings in the defeat.
Sunday, 5/28, 1:10 PM ET – LHP Danny Duffy (4-3, 2.92) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (2-6, 6.70)
Duffy has made four straight quality starts after getting bombed for six earned runs and ten hits in his first start of the month, his second straight six-run start. He struck out a season-high ten batters in a win against the Yankees on May 18 and followed it with his second straight win on May 23, allowing two runs on six hits over seven innings. He took a tough loss in his first start against the Indians this season, allowing just a run on six hits in six and two-thirds innings. He is 2-4 in his career in 13 games (nine starts) against Cleveland with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.
Tomlin took his third consecutive loss in a defeat in Cincinnati on Monday. He was charged with five runs (four earned) on nine hits in six and one-third innings of work. He allowed six runs in just two and one-third innings in his previous outing against Tampa Bay. In his career, Tomlin is 9-4 with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP against Kansas City. He took a no-decision earlier in the year against them, allowing just three hits and one run over seven innings. He was 3-0 against them in five starts last season.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (5/26, 5/28); Fox Sports KC (5/26, 5/28); FS1 (5/27)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; KCSP 610 (Kansas City)
Abraham Almonte (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/16) – right biceps strain
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF) – 7-day concussion disabled list (5/23)
Brandon Guyer (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/14) – left wrist sprain
Austin Jackson (OF) – activated from 10-day disabled list (5/26)
Corey Kluber (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/3) – lower back strain; on rehab assignment
David Lough (OF) – signed to a minor league contract (5/23); assigned to Triple-A Columbus
Scott Alexander (P) – 10-day disabled list (5/8) – right hamstring strain; on rehab assignment
Hunter Dozier (3B) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – left oblique strain; on rehab assignment
Brian Flynn (RP) – 60-day disabled list (2/15) – stable lumbar vertebral fracture (broken rib)
Nate Karns (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/21) – right extensor strain
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The two clubs met for the first time earlier this month and the Indians took two of three in Kansas City.
The Tribe mustered just four hits in a 3-1 loss in the opener of that series on Friday, May 5. Edwin Encarnacion supplied the offense with a double, a homer, and the lone run of the night. Cleveland needed a late rally on May 6, as the Indians tied the game with an RBI-single by Jason Kipnis off of reliever Joakim Soria in the top of the eighth before Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor hit back-to-back solo homers with two outs in the ninth off of closer Kelvin Herrera to earn a 3-1 win. Clevinger and the bullpen combined on a one-hit shutout in the finale of the set to take the series.
ROYALS BY THE NUMBERS
The Royals enter the game hitless in their last 32 at bats with runners in scoring position. They have scored the fewest runs in the Majors with 153 this season.
KC hitters have combined to go 4-for-29 (.138) against Clevinger in his three games against them. Salvador Perez owns half of that hit total with a pair of doubles in four trips against him.
Eric Hosmer has always seen the ball well against Salazar. He is 12-for-30 (.400) in his career off of him with five doubles, three homers, and eight RBI.
Lorenzo Cain owns a 9-for-26 (.346) average against Salazar with nine singles.
Alex Gordon has hit just .167 against Salazar in his career with five singles and a pair of RBI. He has struck out in 17 of his 34 total plate appearances against him.
Alcides Escobar has seven singles in 35 plate appearances against Salazar. He has struck out in ten of those trips to the dish.
Whit Merrifield has hit safely in each of his last ten games. He has posted a .351/.368/.541 slash line during that stretch, dating back to May 13, with a double, two homers, and four RBI.
INDIANS IN DETAIL
Francisco Lindor has hit in ten straight games, the second time that he has done so this season (and the only player in the Majors to accomplish the feat this season so far). The 23-year-old switch-hitting shortstop is hitting .275 in that stretch with three doubles and two solo home runs. Each of the last nine games has been one-hit efforts. He is 2-for-6 in his career against Vargas with a homer and three RBI.
All four of Kipnis’ hits off of Kennedy have been for extra bases with three doubles, a homer, and two RBI. He has been one of the most productive Indians against Vargas, despite the lefty-lefty matchup. He is 9-for-26 (.346) with two doubles, a homer, and a team-leading five RBI against him.
Jose Ramirez enters the weekend in an 0-for-10 slump at the plate. He is just 1-for-11 against Duffy in his career with a single.
Santana has homered off of Kennedy during his career. He owns a .480 average and .519 on-base percentage against Duffy with 12 hits in 25 at bats. He has a double, a triple, one homer, and three RBI off of the southpaw.
Gomes has hit a homer against all three Kansas City starters slated to appear this weekend. He has driven in three runs in 15 career plate appearances against Vargas and is 6-for-18 (.333) against Duffy with two doubles, a homer, and two RBI.
Michael Brantley comes into the weekend with a nine-game hitting streak. He has ten hits in the nine games and is hitting .294 with a .415 on-base percentage, five doubles, seven walks, and a pair of RBI.
The Oakland Athletics will be the next visitors to Progressive Field as they come to town for a four-game series with the Indians beginning Monday afternoon in a special Memorial Day holiday start time of 4:10 PM ET.
The Royals will return home to host the Detroit Tigers for the first time this season in a three-game set beginning Monday. After a day off, they will see the same Indians team at Kauffman Stadium for three straight, starting Friday night.
Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images