Since having their five-game winning streak snapped, the Royals have dropped three straight at home, allowing 44 runs. On Monday, the Royals were swept in a doubleheader by the Indians, falling 10-5 in the first game, and 8-5 in the nightcap
Next to last in the American League with a 5.08 ERA, the Royals are hoping Lima can stabilize a staff that’s missing an ace.
The 30-year-old veteran, who won 21 games in 1999, has given the Royals a great lift since Kansas City purchased his contract from Triple-A Omaha on June 15.
Lima is coming of consecutive wins while allowing three runs in 12 1-3 innings. Last Thursday, Lima earned his first career victory against the Indians, allowing five hits and one run in seven innings of a 4-1 win.
“It’s great to be back,” Lima said. “Most people probably thought I was gone, but I went and I worked hard to get back to the major leagues. Now I’m back on a first-place team. I know these opportunities don’t happen every day and I’m going to make the most of it.”
Lima has had three straight losing seasons, going 17-34 with a 5.94 ERA. Released last September by Detroit, the right-hander spent two months with Newark of the independent Atlantic League this season, going 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA before signing a minor league deal with the Royals on June 11.
Lima’s top priority might be containing journeyman Casey Blake, who homered in both games Monday, and drove in seven runs as the Indians extended their winning streak to three games.
The 30-year-old Blake hit his first career grand slam and drove in five runs in the opener, and followed it up with three hits and in two RBIs in the nightcap.
“The last three days we’ve been hitting the ball hard but making outs. We’ve got to keep this up,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said.
STANDINGS: Indians - 4th place, 9 GB, AL Central. Royals - tied for 1st place, AL Central.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Ricardo Rodriguez (3-8, 5.40 ERA) Rodriguez is making his second start since a stint on the disabled list with strained right triceps. The righty suffered his third straight defeat in a 4-1 loss to Lima and Royals on Thursday. In six innings, Rodriguez surrendered three runs and five hits over six innings. In two career starts against the Royals, Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Lima (2-0, 3.44 ERA). In eight games, including five starts against the Indians, Lima is 1-5 with an 8.26 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Indians - Milton Bradley, .339 avg., 41 runs, 13 SBs.; Matt Lawton, 11 HRs and 39 RBIs. Royals - Mike Sweeney, .321 avg., 12 HRs and 50 RBIs; Raul Ibanez, 50 runs; Carlos Beltran, 19 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 8-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Indians - SS John McDonald, who’s been experiencing back spasms, was a last-minute scratch in the nightcap with a back strain. … Cleveland starters have gone at least five innings in each of the last 19 games. … 2B Brandon Phillips is 1-for-20 (.050) in his last six games. Royals - RHP Runelvys Hernandez, who’s been on the DL since May 17 with inflammation of the pitching elbow, will throw on the side Tuesday and be re-evaluated. … The Royals have dropped five of their last six home games. … OF Ibanez has had the most success against RHP Rodriguez, going 3-for-7 with a homer. 1B-DH Ken Harvey has had the least, going 0-for-7 with four strikeouts.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Indians - 16-25 on the road; Royals - 21-19 at home.
INJURIES: Indians - SS McDonald (back), day-to-day.; SS Omar Vizquel (knee), 15-day DL; OF Ellis Burks (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Jason Bere (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Dave Elder (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Mark Wohlers (elbow), 60-day DL. Royals - INF Mendy Lopez (calf), 15-day DL; IF Sweeney (back), 15-day DL; OF Dee Brown (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Hernandez (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL.