The Cleveland Indians are playing better baseball down the stretch in what has been a disappointing season, and they can always take solace by simply looking beneath them in the AL Central.
That’s where the Kansas City Royals again sit going into this week’s three-game series against the visiting Indians, with Gil Meche(notes) on the mound Monday attempting to snap the Royals’ four-game losing streak.
The Indians (54-69) took two of three from Seattle over the weekend, improving to 17-11 in the last month as their lineup has begun to show some punch.
Kansas City (47-76) has not seen similar reasons for optimism, going 10-25 since the All-Star break.
After losing a pair of tight games to start their series with Minnesota this weekend, the Royals didn’t make it difficult for the Twins to complete the sweep, allowing eight runs in the seventh inning to lose 10-3 on Sunday.
The defeat was their 39th at Kauffman Stadium, the most at home by any team in the majors.
“It was disappointing,” starter Brian Bannister(notes) said. “I felt like I had given my team a chance to win and we had been scoring runs this series. … It was just a battle until that seventh inning.”
Meche (6-9, 4.73 ERA) will try to help the Royals’ beleaguered staff, which has a 5.82 ERA in the season’s second half. Most of that has been without Meche, who has won his first two starts after a stint on the disabled list following back spasms.
Meche hasn’t exactly pitched well in his victories, allowing four runs in five innings each time. He gave up eight hits and five walks against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, hanging on for a 5-4 win.
This will be the first home start for Meche since July 1, when he fell to 1-5 in Kansas City this year. He has a 5.73 ERA at home.
Meche has pitched well against the Indians, going 1-1 with a 2.21 ERA in three starts. He beat Cleveland with seven strong innings and 11 strikeouts -matching a career high - in a 9-0 win June 10.
The Indians will counter with Jeremy Sowers(notes), trying to avoid losing his third straight start. The left-hander held the Angels to four hits in 6 2-3 innings Wednesday but walked five and gave up all the runs in a 3-0 loss.
Sowers (4-9, 4.82) won his only previous start at Kauffman Stadium, allowing one run in seven innings of a 10-3 victory May 24, 2007. He faced the Royals in Cleveland on June 11, giving up two runs in five innings of the Indians’ 4-3, 10-inning victory.
The Indians are 7-5 against Kansas City as they try to win the season series for the sixth straight year.