Things are going from bad to worse for the Kansas City Royals, who hope staff ace Gil Meche can help snap them out of their recent funk as their three-game series against the Cleveland Indians continues Wednesday.
The Royals (55-70) fell to 1-6 on their nine-game road trip after Tuesday’s 9-4 loss, their 10th defeat in 12 games overall. Kansas City committed two errors - giving it nine in the past seven games - went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, stranded 10 men on base and lost starting pitcher Luke Hochevar to tightness in his right ribcage.
The miscues and lack of timely hits prompted manager Trey Hillman to hold a coaches-only meeting.
“I would have invited you all in there if I had wanted you to know what it was,” Hillman said. “We were talking about game situations and looking for ways to try to get better.”
Meche (10-9, 4.13 ERA) is one of the few aspects of their team the Royals may not need to get much better. He’s 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break, striking out 41 in 38 2-3 innings and limiting opponents to a .196 batting average. The right-hander would have been 5-0 since the break had it not been for a leaky bullpen, which squandered a two-run lead Friday after he limited the New York Yankees to one run in six innings of Kansas City’s 4-3 win - its lone victory on this road trip that ends Thursday.
Meche is 1-1 in three starts against the Indians this season. The victory came at Progressive Field, where he scattered four hits in seven innings of a 2-0 win May 4. He is 3-7 with a 5.53 ERA in 15 lifetime starts against Cleveland.
Cleveland (57-67) has won eight of its last 11 games, a surge which has dropped Kansas City into the AL Central cellar.
Center fielder Grady Sizemore may have finally rediscovered his power stroke. He hit a three-run homer - his first home run since July 31 - on Tuesday, and is 5-for-15 with four RBIs in his last three games.
“It’s just one day and obviously this has been a tough stretch,” said Sizemore, whose 28th homer matched a career high he set in 2006.
Indians first baseman Ryan Garko, who also homered, is 15-for-36 (.417) with two homers and 12 RBIs over his last 10 games.
Zach Jackson (0-0, 5.40), acquired in the deal that sent CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers, makes his second start for the Indians. The right-hander was shaky in his debut, giving up three runs and eight hits in five innings before leaving without a decision in Cleveland’s 11-6 loss to Baltimore on Saturday.
Hillman expects third baseman Alex Gordon to be back in Kansas City’s lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with a stiff back. He had gone 4-for-21 on the first six games of the road trip.