After a disappointing 2-4 start to the season with a pair of road series losses in Seattle and Anaheim, the Cleveland Indians return to Progressive Field to open their home schedule with a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
The Indians (2-4) could use some home cooking after four close games to open the year and a pair of lopsided contests against the Angels. After playing three one-run games against the Mariners to open the year while taking just one of the contests, their series with the Angels was highlighted by a pair of blowouts and another one-run defeat in walk-off fashion on Wednesday afternoon. It seems as though the collective offense is cold and the pitching staff has had its own issues to contend with. This year will mark the 25th home opener for the Indians’ jewel on the lake.
The Royals (1-3) have been plagued by bad weather to start the season and their trip to Cleveland will undoubtedly prove chilly at the minimum. They began the season with a pair of home losses against the Chicago White Sox, giving up 18 runs with one postponement. The Royals then headed to Detroit for a three-game set and mustered two runs, but one win, before the finale of the series on Wednesday was cancelled due to inclement weather.
In a special Home Opener addition of Tribe Trivia, we look back to 1994 and the first game ever played at Jacobs Field. Good luck! No cheating! (check in the game recap for Friday night’s game against the Royals for the answer)
I notched the first hit, run batted in, and home run in Jacobs Field history. Who am I?
Drawing a walk, I was the first Indians player to reach base successfully at Jacobs Field. Who am I?
I recorded the Indians’ first hit in their new home, a single to right in the eighth inning to break up Seattle future Hall of Fame left-hander Randy Johnson‘s no-hitter. Who am I?
I was the starting third baseman for the Indians, going 0-for-2 with a walk in three plate appearances. Who am I?
I drove in the first runs of the Jacobs Field era for the Indians with a two-run double off of Johnson to tie the game in the eighth. Who am I?
“The Big Unit” threw 114 pitches over eight innings of work for the Mariners. How many strikeouts did he tally against the big bats of the Tribe lineup?
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Duffy is a familiar face for the Tribe as he begins his eighth season in Royal blue. His first start did not go as plan against the White Sox as three long balls led to a loss. He worked four innings in the outing, allowing five total runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He has had very little luck with the Indians over the last three years, going 0-5 in that span (including 0-3 last season). He is 2-6 lifetime against Cleveland with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.
Carrasco got the win in his first start of the season despite a rough outing against the Mariners. The 31-year-old allowed five runs in five and two-thirds innings, aided by seven Seattle hits. He struck out four and failed to walk a batter in the contest. Throughout his career, Carrasco’s numbers in the first month of the season have been rough, although that trend had changed over the last two seasons with a 4-2 record and an ERA in the low 2’s. He is 9-6 in his career against the Royals with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. It will be his 23 career game against Kansas City and his 18th career start.
The 12-year veteran Kennedy gave the Royals a quality effort in his first start of the season against the White Sox last week. He lasted six innings, allowing a run on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts on the day in a no-decision. Since returning to the American League with the Royals in 2016, he has had little fun against the Indians, going 2-5 in that span. Saturday will be his eleventh career start against Cleveland – he has posted a 5.90 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in his previous ten games against them.
The 27-year-old Bauer put up good numbers overall in his first start of the season against the Mariners, allowing just two runs on five hits in five innings of work. His start was short due in large part to bigger strikeout and walk numbers, as he sat down seven on Ks while walking three. He made three starts against KC a year ago, posting a 1-1 record with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP. For his career, he is 2-3 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
In his first start of his 13th season in the Majors, Hammel made a five-and-fly, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks (two intentional) and three strikeouts in five innings of work and took the loss against Detroit. He went 3-2 against the Indians last season, taking a decision in all five outings with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. All three of his career wins against Cleveland came last season. Overall, he is 3-5 with a 5.10 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in 14 games (ten starts). Those numbers include an 0-4 record in eight games (five starts) at Progressive Field with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.
Clevinger looks to build off of five and one-third innings of scoreless baseball in his season debut against the Angels on Monday in a game the Indians won by a 6-0 final. He kept his former club at bay, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out five before a high pitch count forced him out of the game. Sunday will mark just the second career appearance for Clevinger in the month of April during his brief big league career. He earned a pair of wins against KC last season in three starts and owns a 3-0 record against them lifetime in five games (four starts) with a 2.42 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); Fox Sports Kansas City (all); MLB Network (4/6 – out of market)
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; KCSP 610
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NEWS
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list – recovery from right elbow surgery
Michael Brantley (LF) – activated from the 10-day disabled list (4/6)
Ryan Merritt (P) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – left knee sprain
Tyler Naquin (OF) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (4/5)
Danny Salazar (P) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis
Giovanny Urshela (IF) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – right hamstring strain
Miguel Almonte (P) – traded to Los Angeles Angels (4/4)
Cody Asche (UTL) – traded to New York Yankees (4/4)
Jorge Bonifacio (OF) – serving 80-game PED suspension
Lucas Duda (1B) – day-to-day – right hamstring tightness
Jesse Hahn (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/6) – right elbow UCL sprain
Nate Karns (P) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – right elbow inflammation
Adalberto Mondesi (IF) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – right shoulder impingement
Salvador Perez (C) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – grade 2 MCL tear in left knee
Bubba Starling (OF) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – left oblique strain
Kyle Zimmer (P) – released (4/3)
CRUNCHING THE KC NUMBERS
Mike Moustakas has been one of the better hitters in a bad lineup for the Royals in his surprise return to Kansas City. The two-time All-Star, after declining a qualifying offer, re-signed with the club on a one-year, $6.5 million deal with incentives and a mutual option for next season. He has played 99 games against the Indians in his career and owns a .256/.321/.423 slash with 26 doubles, eleven homers, and 46 RBI. He has played 17 games or more against the Indians in five of the last six years and has hit as many as six homers (2014) and 14 RBI (2012). This season, he is off to a slow start like his teammates, hitting .250 in four games with a double, a triple, and one RBI.
Cheslor Cuthbert has gotten off to a good start for the Royals through their first four games. He is tied for the team lead with four hits and is tops on the club with a .400 batting average and a .462 on-base percentage. He has doubled and driven in two runs in the early season.
Duda has been a big part of the Royals lineup this season. He is responsible for nearly half (five of eleven) of the team’s RBI through four games and owns the team’s only home run. He has been sidelined by some right hamstring tightness.
Alex Gordon’s struggles at the dish have continued into the 2018 campaign. In four games, he is just 2-for-14 (.143) with a double and has struck out three times.
The Royals offense has struggled, which may be a sign of their talent or a sign of the lousy weather that they have had to contend with in the early going, but their pitching has not fared much better. They come in to Friday’s game with the second-worst team ERA in the American League with a 6.17 mark. They have struck out the fewest batters in all of baseball (29 in 35 innings).
INDIANS IN DEPTH
The Indians come into play on Friday with the worst team batting average in all of baseball at .161. The only team with fewer hits than them this season are the Royals, who trail by eight but have played two fewer games. Cleveland has drawn the fourth-most walks in the league (25) and is tied with Boston for the American League lead with six stolen bases.
Edwin Encarnacion leads the club with three home runs, including his unconventional inside-the-parker hit in Anaheim earlier in the week. He is third in the AL in the department, with teammate Yonder Alonso on his heels with two of his own. Alonso has the second-highest batting average on the team at .227.
Lonnie Chisenhall, with a .235 average and .381 on-base percentage, is the leading hitter for the Indians through six games. He has four hits (including a double) and has walked three times while scoring three runs, but he has yet to produce a run batted in at the plate.
Bradley Zimmer’s woes at the plate have continued, in regards to a high strikeout rate. Of his 21 plate appearances, 11 have ended with a strikeout. He has just three singles to his credit with a stolen base and an RBI and has yet to draw a walk.
Indians pitching has had its problems too, most notably in regards to keeping the ball in the yard. The staff has allowed 12 homers already this season, third-most in all of baseball.
The Indians will continue their ten-game homestand on Monday, when the Detroit Tigers come to town for a four-game series. The Toronto Blue Jays will make their only trip (weather permitting) to Cleveland next weekend with their own three-game series.
The Royals will head home to Missouri to begin their longest homestand to date as they will start the first of three games with the Seattle Mariners on Monday night before hosting the Los Angeles Angels for four straight beginning Thursday.
Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images