The Cleveland Indians’ bid for a playoff spot was slowed with a costly loss to a last-place club.
The Kansas City Royals would like to dim their division rivals’ hopes even further Sunday in the season series finale.
Cleveland squandered a chance to keep pace with AL Central-leading Detroit following Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Royals. The Indians (69-67), in search of their first playoff berth since 2007, dropped 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers, but stayed one game in front of the third-place Chicago White Sox.
Manager Manny Acta’s club still has six games left with the Tigers - including three in Detroit to wrap up the regular season - and eight to play against the White Sox.
Though Luke Hochevar(notes) scattered three hits over eight innings Saturday to reach 10 wins for the first time in his big league career, any hopes of a playoff spot for the Royals (58-82) were dashed months ago.
Still in position to win 12 games in one season from Kansas City for the first time since 2005, the Indians will send out Jeanmar Gomez(notes) (1-2, 4.55 ERA) on Sunday following a successful spot start.
“I don’t feel any pressure. I don’t feel nervous. I just tried to do what I’ve been doing at Triple-A,” he told the Indians’ official website.
Though Gomez has just 16 major league starts under his belt, he is 1-2 with a 4.29 ERA in four against the Royals. The right-hander last faced them in his season debut April 19, and was reached for five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss.
The Royals’ Jeff Francis(notes) (5-14, 4.64) will try again to snap a lengthy winless streak at Kauffman Stadium. Since beating the Los Angeles Angels on May 31, the left-hander is 0-4 with a 5.40 ERA in six home starts.
However, he’s 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his last two games overall. After beating Toronto on Aug. 25, Francis yielded two hits in 6 1-3 scoreless innings Tuesday, but failed to get a decision in a 2-1, 10-inning loss at Detroit.
Winding down his first season in the AL after pitching for Colorado from 2004-10, Francis is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA against the Indians with both starts coming in Cleveland.
“I’m very confident he’ll be able to play Sunday,” Acta said.
The Royals’ Jeff Francoeur(notes) has hit .323 with eight of his 44 doubles this season against Cleveland. He needs one more double to set a franchise record for the most by an outfielder, currently sharing the mark with Jermaine Dye(notes) (1999) and Carlos Beltran(notes) (2002).