The Cleveland Indians have done well against Kansas City this season, as most teams have. But the Royals’ surprising run at the plate has made them much tougher to deal with in recent days.
After a successful series against one of the American League’s top teams, the Indians look to win their fourth straight game against the usually light-hitting Royals when the teams open a three-game series Friday night.
Cleveland (67-71) had a chance to sweep a three-game series with the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox, but lost the finale 4-2 on Wednesday. That left the Indians 10 1/2 games behind the White Sox, but that isn’t nearly as bad as the Royals’ position.
With one of the weakest lineups in baseball, Kansas City (60-79) is last in the Central. The Royals rank 26th in the majors in runs scored (576), and are one of four teams that have yet to reach 100 home runs.
Kansas City, which has 98 homers on the season, has gone deep six times in its last five games and is hitting .333 while averaging 6.8 runs during that stretch.
That’s a far cry from the numbers the Royals have put up against the Indians this season. Cleveland has posted a 3.34 ERA en route to winning seven of 11 contests with Kansas City.
The Indians will now hand the ball to Anthony Reyes (4-2, 2.93 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in two career starts against the Royals.
Reyes is 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA in five starts since joining the rotation. The right-hander gave up one run and seven hits in seven innings as Cleveland lost 4-3 to Seattle on Saturday.
Kansas City will counter with Brandon Duckworth (2-0, 4.91), who is making his third start since being called up from Triple-A Omaha. The right-hander allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings as Kansas City beat Detroit 13-3 on Saturday night.
This will be Duckworth’s first start against Cleveland. He is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in four relief appearances versus the Indians.
Duckworth has received an average of 9.0 runs of support, and the Royals’ lineup is coming off a productive doubleheader against Oakland. Kansas City won the opener 5-4 in 10 innings before a 9-6 victory in the nightcap.
“A sweep at any point in the season is good, even if it’s building toward other things,” Royals first baseman Billy Butler said. “That’s the way we want to play. Hopefully, we can do that every day.”
Butler enters this contest with 10-game hitting streak, batting .475 (19-for-40) with three home runs, six doubles and 11 RBIs during that stretch. Butler, though, has hit .172 (5-for-29) in eight games this season versus the Indians.
Royals center fielder David DeJesus, meanwhile, had three hits in each game Thursday, and scored three times on the day. He’s batting .333 (15-for-45) with two home runs, three doubles and six RBIs in 11 games against Cleveland.