After firing manager Manny Acta, the Cleveland Indians could use a dose of positivity.
The Indians will try to gain that Friday night in their debut under interim boss Sandy Alomar Jr., seeking their first three-game win streak in nearly three months and an improved showing against the Kansas City Royals.
Cleveland (65-91) was 3 1/2 games out of first in the AL Central as recently as July 26, but its playoff hopes quickly evaporated as the team lost 11 in a row and 28 of 33.
That eventually led to Acta's firing on Thursday. Alomar, the Indians bench coach, was tapped to lead the team over the final six games of the season.
"Unfortunately, our results on the field fell short of our expectations," said general manager Chris Antonetti, whose team shares the AL's worst record with Minnesota. "We made this decision with the idea of getting better moving forward."
Just before the end of Acta's tenure, the Indians claimed a pair of wins in Chicago and pushed the White Sox out of first place in the division.
"It shows a little character," second baseman Jason Kipnis said after Wednesday's 6-4 victory. "We're obviously not going to be doing anything after Oct. 3, but the fact that we're still competing like we are right now shows signs of some character."
Cleveland hasn't won three in a row since July 3-5 and will try to end that drought with a better showing against the Royals (70-86). The Indians have dropped nine of the last 11 matchups, allowing an average of 6.0 runs to a Kansas City team which has scored the third-fewest in the AL.
Cleveland did snap a seven-game skid in the series with a 15-4 win Sunday behind David Huff (2-0, 2.25 ERA), who starts again Friday. The left-hander allowed one run and three hits over 5 2-3 innings.
Huff, called up from the minors Sept. 4, is 3-2 with a 4.91 ERA in five career starts against the Royals.
After losing to Huff and the Indians on Sunday, Kansas City was swept over four games in Detroit. The Royals came back from a four-run deficit Thursday only to lose 5-4 after committing five errors, their most since Sept. 24, 2009.
They haven't dropped six straight since a 12-game skid April 11-24 that included four losses to the Indians.
Kansas City's Will Smith (6-8, 4.88) will look to beat Cleveland for the second straight start. The rookie left-hander gave up two runs over seven innings in a 5-3 win over the Indians on Saturday.
His only other outing against them came May 29 in Cleveland and marked his first major league win, allowing two runs and four hits over six innings in an 8-2 victory.
"I know I beat them for my first victory, but they're just like any other team. They're major league hitters. They're good hitters," Smith told the team's website. "You still have to execute your plan, attack them, put up zeros and give your team a chance to win."
Kansas City's Alex Gordon has a major league-best 51 doubles, three shy of Hal McRae's franchise record set in 1977.
- Cleveland Indians
- Kansas City Royals
- Kansas City