Indians-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

Shin-Soo Choo has been the Cleveland Indians' top hitter this season, but his name was one of many rumored to be on the block at the trade deadline.

Unfortunately for the Royals, Choo appears to be staying put.

Choo looks to continue his impressive hitting in Kansas City on Tuesday night when the fading Indians open a three-game series with the last-place Royals.

Cleveland (50-52) watched Chicago and Detroit make bold moves to improve their chances of capturing the AL Central crown, and seemed like it could be in sell-mode prior to Tuesday's deadline as it reportedly made Choo available.

The team leader in average (.291) and runs (66) stayed put, but Choo's club has a lot of work to do to catch the White Sox and Tigers after being outscored 28-6 while being swept in Minnesota over the weekend. The Indians fell two games below .500 for the first time since they were 2-4 on April 13.

"I'd be lying if I told you this doesn't deflate you a little bit,'' said Shelley Duncan, who drove in the team's only run in Sunday's 5-1 loss. "It's one of those things where this time of year you start to scoreboard watch a little bit. After the game you check and see how other teams did.''

Cleveland, though, has won seven of the last eight matchups in Kansas City, and Choo has been a major part of that run. He's a .356 career hitter at Kauffman Stadium and drove in six runs during the Indians' three-game sweep of the Royals from April 13-15.

Kansas City (41-60) has since won four of six in Cleveland.

Its latest experience on the road was much less positive. The Royals wrapped up a 1-6 trip Sunday with a 7-6 loss that finished a four-game sweep in Seattle.

"It's like every day one facet of our game is costing us and it's just the way it's been,'' said designated hitter Billy Butler, one of the team's few bright spots lately while going 10 for 17 over his last five games. "Everybody in here can account for their reasons of losing each game, and one side of each day is coming up short, and we just got to figure it out.''

With the AL's worst record, Kansas City unloaded closer Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati prior to Tuesday's deadline in exchange for a pair of minor league pitchers.

Luke Hochevar hopes to help the Royals get back on track and improve on his latest rough outing after allowing eight runs in three innings of an 11-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

Hochevar (6-9, 5.26 ERA) went 6 1-3 innings to beat Cleveland 8-2 on April 25, but he's only 2-4 with a 6.31 ERA in his last six starts versus the Indians. He certainly would have preferred for the Indians to deal Choo, who is 15 for 25 (.600) with three homers lifetime off the right-hander.

Cleveland will counter with Derek Lowe, who beat Hochevar 8-3 on April 13 but has lost his last three starts overall.

Lowe (8-9, 5.09) gave up five runs in six innings of Wednesday's 5-3 loss to Detroit, increasing his ERA to 9.60 during his skid. The right-hander, though, has won his last three outings versus the Royals with a 3.32 ERA.

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