The Indians look to end their struggles against the Royals when the bottom two teams in the AL Central open a three-game series on Tuesday night.
Kansas City (55-69) is in last place in the division, 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland (56-67), largely due to an ineffective pitching staff. The Royals are near the bottom of the American League with a 4.67 ERA, and are coming off a 15-6 loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday.
But the Indians have struggled in their last six games against the Royals this season, scoring two runs or less in five of those contests. Cleveland has lost four times in that span to split its eight meetings with Kansas City in 2008.
The Indians have won seven of their last 10 overall, tallying at least 10 hits six times. Cleveland collected 11 hits in a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday in the decisive game of a three-game series.
Indians right fielder Franklin Gutierrez had his first three-hit game since April 29. He’s batting .349 (15-for-43) with two home runs and six RBIs in his last 10 games.
Cleveland has given Anthony Reyes (1-1, 2.19 ERA) four runs to work with in two starts since he was acquired from St. Louis on July 26. In his second AL start, Reyes allowed two runs and six hits in six innings as the Indians lost 6-1 to Baltimore on Wednesday.
The right-hander earned a win in his only career appearance against Kansas City, giving up four hits in 5 2-3 shutout innings for St. Louis in a 4-2 victory on May 20, 2006.
The Royals will counter with Luke Hochevar (6-11, 5.44), who has posted a 5.79 ERA while losing his last three starts. He’s 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break.
The right-hander gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings as Kansas City lost 4-0 to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Hochevar is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in two career starts versus the Indians. He’ll try to spark a Royals team that has lost nine of 11 after winning its previous three.
With veteran Mark Grudzielanek out due to a torn ligament in his right ankle, Esteban German has been getting more playing time at second base and has been making a case for becoming the regular starter at that position. He went 3-for-6 with two doubles and two runs in three games against the Yankees over the weekend.
“I think his career has shown that when you go every day there are more valleys, but depending on how the lineups fall he’s certainly in consideration for a second base slot,” Royals manager Trey Hillman told the team’s official Web site.
All three of German’s hits against the Indians this season came in a 5-4 loss on May 30.
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