The Indians will be taking the show on the road for the first time in 2012, traveling to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City to face the Royals. The season has been dismal to this point with the Tribe only managing one win so far. Last series they were swept by the White Sox in a series shortened to two games by snow. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and the Indians will remember how to hit against the Kansas City pitching staff.
Lowe was surprisingly effective in his first start, allowing no earned runs in the Indians only win of the season. His goal for that game was the same as it will be for the next one. Throw strikes and keep the ball down in the zone. If his sinker is working anywhere near as good as it did last week this should be no problem. Hopefully Jack Hannahan and Casey Kotchman will have recovered from their defensive lapses by then and the Tribe infield will be ready to go behind him.
Luke Hochevar has been starting for the Royals since 2008 and has become a very effective innings eater for their team. Last year was his best season at 11-11 with almost 200 innings pitched in 31 games and he hopes to improve on that effort this season as he nears his prime years. The Indians have fared well against Hochevar in the past, especially Shin-Soo Choo who has a batting average over .500 against the right-hander in more than 20 at bats. Choo has 3 home runs and 10 RBI against him as well.
Gomez pitched in the finale against the White Sox in relief as the Indians needed a little help in the bullpen to make up for Masterson’s early departure. The shuffling of the rotation along with the off days allowed him to throw 2 innings in that game and still be ready for the second start against KC. Gomez was perfect in that outing (his second career appearance out of the bullpen) and was fantastic in Spring Training. Hopefully he will continue his success on Saturday in Missouri.
Jonathan Sanchez is a newcomer to the Royals after being an integral part of the San Francisco Giants starting rotation for 4 years. Last season was disappointing for Sanchez, but he has already started off on the right foot with the Royals, winning his first game against the AL West favorite Los Angeles Angels. Sanchez was only able to go 5 innings in the game as he was already at about 100 pitches thrown. This bodes well for the Tribe as the one good thing the Indians have done offensively is work the count. Carlos Santana is tied for first in the AL in walks while Michael Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo, Shelley Duncan and Travis Hafner are all in the top 20.
The suspension is finally over as Jimenez prepares to take the mound for the second time this year. Ubaldo kind of fell apart after pitching 5+ perfect innings in his first start, but if he can match his last outing every time he pitches it might make it worth losing the top two pitchers in the farm system. He goes up against Luis Mendoza who has been in the Majors since 2007, but has only made a total of 17 starts. Mendoza had an amazing Spring, leading the Cactus League in ERA. Of course Spring Training stats are meaningless as soon as April begins, but with his success in his first start against Oakland, you have to wonder if Mendoza has finally turned things around.