There has not been a lot of variety to the schedules of the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals over the course of the last week. After the Indians took two of three in Kansas City last weekend, the two teams got a brief reprieve, but now the Royals come to town this weekend for a three-game series at Progressive Field.
The Indians (70-56) have endured a tough stretch of the schedule and a steady growth of players on the disabled list. Despite that, they have played well and split the first four games of their homestand during the week with the Boston Red Sox. Cleveland sits at 33-29 at home with a run differential of +70 at Progressive Field this season. With two more wins over the last six games of the month, the Indians can match their month-high of 15 wins, done in each of the last two months of the schedule. They will need to keep on winning to hold off the second place Minnesota Twins, who sit just five and a half in back of the Tribe.
The Royals (64-62) are in jeopardy of putting together their first losing month since April. At 9-13 in August, their slide has hit at the worst time as they were hovering around the race for both the AL Central and the AL Wild Card. They have managed just two three-game winning streaks in the month and were hurt early on in August by a five-game losing streak at the back end of a stretch where they dropped ten of 12 games. They have played well against the Indians this season, splitting the season series thus far with six wins apiece, but Cleveland has outscored them 53-40. The Royals trail by six games coming into the weekend.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Vargas will make his second straight start against the Indians after getting hit hard against them on August 19. He lasted four and two-thirds innings in the loss, allowing four runs on six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. Friday will mark his fifth start of the season against Cleveland – he is 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA and one complete game. It will be his 18th start against the Indians overall in a successful career against them, as he has posted an 8-4 record with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in those starts.
Merritt will be recalled by the Indians from Triple-A Columbus on Friday to make the spot start against Vargas. He will plug the hole in the rotation caused by the injury to Danny Salazar. Merritt had been pitching better of late in the minors, where he has rattled off eight straight victories (also includes one outing at Lake County). In four minor league starts this month for the Clippers, he has gone 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA. His last appearance came with Cleveland last Thursday in a doubleheader against Minnesota. He has made one career start against the Royals and it was a good one as he threw five innings of one-run, three-hit baseball last September 30.
Hammel has had a rough year this season, that is, unless he is facing the Indians. He has made three starts against Cleveland this season and has won all three, allowing seven runs over 18 2/3 innings of work. His most recent start was his third straight quality outing against the Indians as he allowed three runs on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts in six innings on the mound. His complete numbers against the Indians over the course of the rest of his career have not yielded those same results – he is 3-3 in 12 games (eight starts) with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
Clevinger had a short outing in his last start as he was again tagged by the Boston Red Sox. After giving up five runs to them in just three innings at Fenway Park on July 31, he gave up four runs on four hits with four walks over four and one-third innings pitched. He has won just one start in the second half of the season. He has made just three starts against the Royals in his career, earning a win and two no-decisions with a 3.45 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 15 2/3 innings.
Duffy earned the win in his last outing, ending a nearly month-long drought on the mound for the Royals. He worked six innings and allowed just one hit, striking out seven and walking three while giving up a pair of runs against the Colorado Rockies. He has lost four straight decisions against Cleveland, including twice in May this year. While his first start was a quality outing (6 2/3 innings pitched, 1 run on 6 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts), his most recent one on May 28 was a bit more difficult (4 innings, 6 runs, 9 hits, 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts).
After a pair of rough starts to open the month, Carrasco appeared to have found his stuff again until running into the Boston Red Sox for the second time in a three-week span. He was charged with six runs on eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings in a deceiving start as a chunk of the damage was done late in his outing. He has faced the Royals just once this season, giving up five runs on five hits in four and one-third innings in a loss. He allowed just five runs against the Royals in all of 2016, doing so over 17 innings of work.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (8/25, 8/27); WKYC 3 (8/25); Fox Sports Kansas City (8/25, 8/27); FS1 (8/26)
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; KCSP 610
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NEWS
Abraham Almonte – 10-day disabled list (8/18) – left hamstring strain
Cody Anderson (SP) – out for season – right elbow surgery
Shawn Armstrong (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (8/25)
Michael Brantley (LF) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – right ankle sprain
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right calf strain; on rehab assignment
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 10-day disabled list (8/23) – right hamstring strain
Boone Logan (RP) – 60-day disabled list (7/20) – left lat muscle
Ryan Merritt (SP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (8/25)
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/22) – patellofemoral syndrome
Danny Salazar (SP) – 10-day disabled list (8/21) – right elbow inflammation
Josh Tomlin (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/31) – left hamstring; on rehab assignment
Miguel Almonte (RP) – 60-day disabled list (8/22) – right rotator cuff strain
Trevor Cahill (SP) – 10-day disabled list (8/10) – right shoulder impingement
Neftali Feliz (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/14) – right ulnar nerve palsy
Nate Karns (SP) – out for season – recovery from July 2017 rib surgery
Joakim Soria (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/16) – left oblique strain
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Lorenzo Cain has put up a big month for the Royals at the plate, hitting .376 in August. His 32 hits are third-most in the AL. He has six doubles, a homer, and six stolen bases in his 21 games in the month so far.
Melky Cabrera, who has always seemed to put up good numbers against the Indians, has had a productive month of August, hitting .318 with four doubles, two triples, three homers, and 15 RBI over 22 games. He has hit more homers against the Indians (14) than any other opponent in his career.
Mike Moustakas has brought the lumber with him on the road this season. Twenty-one of his 35 homers on the year have come away from Kauffman Stadium. He leads the Royals in road homers as well as road RBI with 42. In addition to his 35 total homers this season, Moustakas has 20 doubles and is tops on the team with 77 runs batted in and his .558 slugging mark.
Salvador Perez has been an important piece of the Royals’ game plan on the road. He comes into the weekend set hitting .299 on the year away from home with eight doubles, 16 homers, and 37 RBI. He has not fared well against the Indians in his career though, hitting .246 with 18 doubles, six homers, and 36 RBI in 85 games. He is performing at a career-worst clip against Cleveland this season, however, hitting just .161 with five hits (two doubles) and two RBI in nine games. Ten of those 33 plate appearances have ended in strikeouts.
Eric Hosmer leads Royals regulars with a .339 average and .392 on-base percentage at road ball parks. He is also the team’s regular season leader (among qualified players) with a .318 average and a .382 on-base percentage in his 126 games played in what could be his final season in Kansas City.
INDIANS BY THE NUMBERS
Jay Bruce is still producing for the Tribe in his first stint as an American Leaguer. In 15 games, he has hit .345 with five doubles, four homers, and 13 RBI.
Yandy Diaz, who tallied four hits and came a homer away from hitting for the cycle in Thursday’s 13-6 win over the Boston Red Sox, is hitting .323 with a .432 on-base percentage when playing at Progressive Field in his brief career. Long-time teammate from Columbus, Erik Gonzalez, has also thrived when playing in Cleveland, hitting .319 this season over 23 games.
Edwin Encarnacion is second in the AL and fourth overall in the Majors with 18 walks in August.
Jose Ramirez has slumped in August, hitting just .192 with a .250 on-base percentage. More than half of his hits for the month, however, have been doubles (eight of his 15 total hits).
ONE MORE FOR AUGUST
With their seven-game homestand wrapped up, the Indians will hit the road for the Big Apple, playing three against the New York Yankees starting Monday before an off day next Thursday. They will then play eight games in seven days against Detroit and Chicago. The Royals will return home for a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays to conclude the month before hitting the road to start September with six on the road in Minnesota and Detroit.
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