After a thrilling finish in the series opener, the Cleveland Indians look to maintain their recent dominance at Jacobs Field over the Kansas City Royals when the teams meet in a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.
“Everybody did what they needed to do to make that comeback possible,” manager Eric Wedge said after the Indians improved to 2-53 this year when trailing after eight innings. The other late comeback win was 6-4 over Kansas City on May 16.
Friday’s victory was Cleveland’s eighth in a row at home over Kansas City. The Indians, who have not lost to the Royals at Jacobs Field since July 20, 2005, have outscored them 50-18 during the streak.
Burgos, once projected as Kansas City’s closer of the future, has blown an AL-high 11 save opportunities this season.
“It’s a learning process for him,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “He needs to understand what is a good pitch for him and what is not.”
Shin-Soo Choo got the Indians on the board Friday with a run-scoring double in the seventh inning. The Korean-born right fielder, acquired last month from Seattle for Ben Broussard, is hitting .500 (10-for-20) during a five-game hitting streak.
C.C. Sabathia (8.8, 3.43 ERA) looks to end his recent home struggles when he starts the first game for the Indians. He’s 1-4 with a 7.67 ERA and opponents are batting .309 off him in his last five starts at Jacobs Field.
The left-hander has lost four of his last five starts overall, including two each to playoff contenders Detroit and Minnesota. Sabathia pitched seven strong innings Sunday, but his fielding error led to the only run in a 1-0 loss to the Tigers.
“C.C. threw the ball well, actually outstanding all that way to that final inning,” Wedge said. “C.C’s pitched two ballgames on this road trip that have been very, very good ballgames.”
Sabathia gave up only one run over eight innings in a 6-3 victory over Boston on Aug. 1 en route to his only win in five outings. He’s yet to face the Royals this season, and is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in five career starts against them.
He will be opposed by Odalis Perez (0-0, 7.00), who tries again for his first win in nearly three months when he starts for the Royals.
The left-hander’s last win came May 14 when he defeated San Francisco 6-3 while pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since then, Perez is 0-3 with a 4.74 ERA and .352 batting average against in 15 games, including three starts.
Perez was acquired by Kansas City on July 25, and has continued to struggle with his new team. Against Minnesota on Sunday, he gave up five runs and nine hits over five innings, but didn’t receive a decision in Kansas City’s 11-5 defeat.
“I thought Perez was OK,” Bell said. “We still need to try to stretch him out. I thought he might have got tired in the fifth and got some pitches up.”
Four years after being selected in the first round of the entry draft, Jeremy Guthrie (0-0, 6.59) will make his first career start for Cleveland in the second game.
While with Triple-A Buffalo this season, the right-hander was 7-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 17 starts.
“He’s thrown the ball pretty good all year,” Wedge said. “Like most young pitchers, you talk about (his need to have) command and staying under control. He’s done a better job of that this year.”
In seven relief appearances with the Indians this season, Guthrie has given up 10 runs and 17 hits in 13 2-3 innings. He is 0-0 with a 4.76 ERA in three career appearances against the Royals.
Another midseason acquisition will start the nightcap for Kansas City when Jorge de la Rosa (1-1, 8.59) takes the mound.
De la Rosa, who was acquired on July 25 from Milwaukee for infielder Tony Graffanino, lasted only 1 1-3 innings against Minnesota on Thursday, allowing six runs, four hits and four walks in an 8-2 loss.
A converted reliever, de la Rosa retired just four of the 12 batters he faced.
“From the first pitch de la Rosa threw, he couldn’t find the strike zone,” Bell said. “He couldn’t find it with his fastball or his secondary pitches.”