First Place Tribe Heads to Kauffman for Three in Kansas City
Bob Toth | On 31, Aug 2020
It was a busy day for the Cleveland Indians front office ahead of a three-game weekend series with the Kansas City Royals from the western edge of Missouri.
The Indians (21-13) showed some really good things and some really discouraging things all in one trip to Busch Stadium over the weekend. After shelling the St. Louis Cardinals 14-2 in the series opener on Friday night, the club eked out a 2-1 win in their longest game of the season, a 12-inning marathon on Saturday. Sunday, they were dealt a 7-2 decision as Adam Wainwright went the distance for St. Louis.
The team was active in trying to upgrade the roster for the present and the future and did so in a move few would have expected at the start of the season. Starting pitcher Mike Clevinger and outfielder Greg Allen, plus a player to be named later, were sent packing for San Diego as the Indians and Padres paired up for a third straight season near the deadline. The Indians acquired three Major League players, including catcher Austin Hedges, outfielder Josh Naylor, and reliever Cal Quantrill, plus three of the organization’s top prospects. The team cut ties with outfielder Domingo Santana to make room on the roster for the new arrivals.
Cleveland comes into the weekday set with Kansas City sitting in a first-place tie with the White Sox, a game and a half up on the Twins. The Indians have allowed just 102 runs against them in 34 games, but has scored just 142.
The Royals (13-21) are coming off of a tough weekend in Chicago, when they lost two of three on walk-off home runs against the White Sox. It continued a tough season for the Royals, which has not won a series since sweeping the Minnesota Twins during their August 7-9 series at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City has played four interleague series in August and five against AL Central rivals in the White Sox and Twins in a 10-16 month for the club. Their schedule has been heavy on the road games, with 21 games away from home and just 13 at Kauffman Stadium thus far this season. The Royals have been outscored 158-139 on the year.
The 25-year-old budding star has won six of his first seven starts of the season while making quality starts each appearance. He was strong once again his last time out, as he limited the Minnesota Twins to a pair of runs on four hits with three walks (a season-high) and ten strikeouts in six innings of work. His impressive body of work includes 75 strikeouts and just nine walks over 46 2/3 innings of work, and opposing clubs have scored just seven runs on 29 hits against him (1.35 ERA, 0.81 WHIP). This will be his second start of the year against the Royals, which he blanked over six scoreless innings in his first start of the season while striking out what remains a season-high 14 batters in the win.
Keller spent over three weeks on the disabled list, but just a week and a half of that overlapped the regular season schedule. He was activated on August 6 after dealing with complications of the coronavirus and has made four starts, all of which have been interleague. He was unscored on in his first three starts, a span of 17 2/3 innings, but he was finally hit hard his last time out against St. Louis on August 24, when he allowed five runs on six hits with three walks, a hit batter, and four strikeouts in four innings to suffer his first loss of the campaign.
Tuesday, September 1, 8:05 PM ET
RHP Zach Plesac (1-1, 1.29 ERA) vs. TBD
The Indians will have to make a roster move on Tuesday as they will call up the right-hander Plesac from the team’s alternate training site in Lake County for the start. Plesac last started on Saturday, August 8, in Chicago, earning his first win of the season behind six scoreless innings of five-hit baseball against the White Sox. He had been superb on the mound for the Tribe in his first three starts, working 14 scoreless frames in two starts against Chicago while allowing three runs on four hits in seven innings against Cincinnati in between. He was placed by the club on the restricted list on August 11 and optioned to the minors on August 14, where he has remained for the last two and a half weeks.
The Royals have not announced a starter for game two of the series at the time of this story.
Wednesday, September 2, 8:05 PM ET
RHP Triston McKenzie (1-0, 2.70 ERA) vs. TBD
McKenzie had issues with command during his second big league start on Friday night, which limited him to just four innings and a no-decision in the Indians’ win over the Cardinals. Wednesday will mark his third career start and his second against an American League Central foe. In his big league debut on August 22 against the Detroit Tigers, he worked six innings of two-hit, one-run baseball, striking out ten in an impressive debut.
The Royals have not announced a starter for the final game of the series, either, at the time of this story.
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Greg Allen (OF) – traded to San Diego Padres (8/31)
Gabriel Arias (SS) – acquired from San Diego Padres (8/31), sent to team’s alternate training site
Joey Cantillo (P) – acquired from San Diego Padres (8/31), sent to team’s alternate training site
Mike Clevinger (SP) – traded to San Diego Padres (8/31)
Austin Hedges (C) – acquired from San Diego Padres (8/31)
Oscar Mercado (OF) – recalled from team’s alternate training site (8/31)
Owen Miller (IF) – acquired from San Diego Padres (8/31), sent to team’s alternate training site
Josh Naylor (OF) – acquired from San Diego Padres (8/31)
Cal Quantrill (P) – acquired from San Diego Padres (8/31)
Domingo Santana (OF) – designated for assignment (8/31)
Chance Adams (P) – recalled from team’s alternate training site (8/31)
Franchy Cordero (OF) – 60-day injured list (8/9) – broken right hamate bone
Foster Griffin (P) – 60-day injured list (7/28) – left forearm strain
Carlos Hernandez (P) – recalled from team’s alternate training site (8/30)
Ian Kennedy (P) – 10-day injured list (8/31) – left calf strain
Mike Montgomery (P) – 60-day injured list (7/28) – strained lat
Edward Olivares (OF) – acquired from San Diego Padres (8/29)
Salvador Perez (C) – 10-day injured list (8/18) – left eye central serous chorioretinopathy
Trevor Rosenthal (RP) – traded to San Diego Padres (8/29)
Glenn Sparkman (P) – 60-day injured list (8/3) – right forearm strain
HEAD TO HEAD
The two clubs last met up in the first action of the season, when the Indians took two of three from the Royals in their Home Opening series. Bieber took the win in the first game of the year, a 2-0 shutout. Kansas City held on for a 3-2 win in the middle game and the Indians won the rubber match decisively in a 9-2 victory on July 26.
After going a month between playing each other, the Indians and Royals will be well acquainted over the course of the next week. The Indians will host the Royals for their final four games against each other next week at Progressive Field, beginning Monday night.
WE’RE GOING STREAKING
Tyler Naquin’s hot stretch at the plate continued over the weekend. He extended his hitting streak to ten straight games and he has provided the Tribe lineup with seven straight games with an extra base hit. The output included the game-winning hit in extra innings on Saturday afternoon and the lone runs of support in Sunday’s loss.
During his ten-game streak, Naquin is hitting .341 with a .372 on-base percentage and a .634 slugging mark with 14 total hits, including two homers and eight RBI.
Francisco Lindor has very quietly compiled a six-game hitting streak of his own, with nine hits in that span. He is hitting .360/.407/.560 since the start of the streak with a homer and two RBI.
Roberto Perez and his catching mates behind the plate will be keeping a watchful eye on the Royals. They are third in the American League with 24 stolen bases. They have also been caught 12 times, the most in all of baseball.
WALK THIS WAY
The Indians are second in the American League in walks with 151 on the season. Carlos Santana is the leader of the pack, not only for the club, but for all of baseball, with 33 (eight more than the next closest player, Los Angeles’ Anthony Rendon).
The Royals have drawn 98 walks, tying them for the second-fewest in the league.
Kansas City has scored 139 runs in their 34 games, the second-fewest runs in the AL and just three fewer than the Indians (142 in 34 games).
The Indians’ pitching staff owns the top ERA in the American League (and second-best in baseball) by plenty, as its 2.88 mark is well above Oakland’s 3.51. Cleveland’s overall WHIP of 1.05 is tops in MLB.
With another six-game road trip completed and the month of August in the books, the Indians will kick off their penultimate homestand of the season (!) after a day off on Thursday. The Milwaukee Brewers will come to town for three games over the weekend, while the Royals will follow them into Cleveland next week.
Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images