The Indians showed they could win on the road, not just winning consecutively on the road for the first time on the season, but winning a series against the talented, but wounded Rangers. The Tribe have now won nine of their last ten and sit just two games behind Detroit in the competition for the American League Central Division. The Royals and White Sox sit right behind the Tribe in the standings and the Indians will head to Kansas City for two in an effort to increase that distance.
Although not as hot as the Tribe, the Royals have been playing very well of late, winning series against the NL Champion Cardinals and the Yankees in the past week. In that span, they have surpassed the White Sox and Twins in the standings, moving into third in the Central, finally giving the division the look people thought it would from the start. They have done this despite their top two hitters, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, going a combined 8/53. Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain have stepped up in their place, but without the Royals top hitters going well, they will be hard pressed to keep up with strong offensive teams.
Game 1: Tuesday, June 10th, 8:10 PM EDT (tickets)
Corey Kluber, RHP, 6-3, 3.23 ERA vs Yordano Ventura, RHP, 3-5, 3.41 ERA
Kluber had one of the best months in three decades for the Indians in May, but it didn’t carry over to June in his first start. Most likely, it was just the heavy work load with few off days during the month. For his next start, he will get an extra day of rest thanks to an off-day last Thursday, so this shouldn’t be an issue. In addition, Kluber pitched what could be considered his best start of the season against the Royals with a complete game on April 24th with no earned runs allowed (one unearned) and a then career high 11 strike outs.
The Indians missed Ventura in their first round with the Royals, but the rookie did make his debut against the Tribe back in 2013. In that game, he gave up just a single run in 5.2 innings as a September call-up. He continued this success in his next two starts that season and had a tremendous April in 2014. So far, he already has three starts with no runs allowed and three starts with two runs allowed, including his last game against St. Louis. He has struggled from time to time, but looks like a tremendous young pitcher for the Royals.
Game 2: Wednesday, June 11th, 2:10 PM EDT (tickets)
Trevor Bauer, RHP, 1-2, 4.08 ERA vs Jeremy Guthrie, RHP, 2-6, 4.10 ERA
Bauer was less than perfect against the Rangers in his last start, but most of the damage came in a couple at bats and courtesy of the hitter friendly Globe Life Park. Bauer has yet to pitch against the Central Division rival Royals in his career, something that could be an advantage for the young pitcher.
The former Indians first round pick is putting together a third solid season with the Royals, although he is not quite the ace he was drafted as. The Tribe put four on the board in six innings, his second worse game of the season. Guthrie does have the ability to give up four runs a game and with the Kansas City offense the way it is right now, it’s not surprising he is 2-6.
Who’s Hot? - Who’s Not?
Lonnie Chisenhall had a good enough finale to be considered hot for a week. In that game he went 5/5 with a team record 9 RBI, but it fits right into the rest of his week where he went 8/25 with four home runs and 14 RBI. He now leads the world with a .285 batting average if only he had enough at bats to qualify. He will certainly get those at bats now, because if he was hard to ignore early in the season, he is screaming right now.
The most deserving candidate for designation when Nick Swisher comes back had another poor week at the plate, despite getting plenty of at bats. Jason Giambi has went two for his last 15, striking out four times for an exciting .140 average on the season. He is determined to prove that clutch isn’t an ability and has lost most of his power and all of the speed he ever had. He remains an anchor on the 25 man roster, keeping much more worthy players in the minors, including until recently, George Kottaras, who now has three home runs in nine at bats.
On Deck: The Indians didn’t get enough of the Red Sox in their sweep at home, so they will go to Boston for four more starting Thursday.