Several Cleveland Indians have hit Kansas City's Luke Hochevar hard. Not surprisingly, the Royals' scheduled starter hasn't enjoyed much luck against the Indians.
Cleveland looks to get the best of Hochevar again, win its sixth straight in the series and send Kansas City to a 13th straight loss Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
The Indians (9-6) took Tuesday's series opener 4-3, winning for the eighth time in 10 games after opening 1-4. Their turnaround started with a three-game sweep in Kansas City from April 13-15, and that series began with an 8-3 victory over Hochevar (1-1, 5.87 ERA) in the Royals' home opener.
The right-hander permitted seven runs and nine hits - two apiece by Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley - and was forced out at the end of the fourth inning after taking a line drive off his left ankle. He fell to 1-4 with a 7.06 ERA his last five outings versus Cleveland. X-rays on the bruised ankle came back negative, but the Royals decided to give Hochevar an extra day of rest to recover.
Against Toronto on Friday, he allowed one run, two hits and two walks in five innings, but had to come out after 84 pitches when the ankle began to bother him. He left with his team ahead 2-1, but Kansas City ended up losing 4-3.
The Royals have lost 12 in a row since beating Oakland 3-0 on April 10, tying the third-longest skid in team history. They haven't dropped 13 straight since 2006. The club record for consecutive losses is 19, set in 2005.
Kansas City (3-14) has plated three runs or fewer in seven of its last eight games, with cleanup hitter Eric Hosmer batting .194 with three RBIs in that stretch.
"We'll break through,'' manager Ned Yost said. "I find it hard to believe we've lost 12 in a row, the way we are battling to the very end. That's a good sign with a young team.''
Brantley is hitting .429 in 14 at-bats against Hochevar, while Jack Hannahan is batting .538 with two home runs and three doubles in 13 at-bats. Choo is batting .600 with three homers and four doubles in 25 career at-bats against Hochevar, but he is out of Cleveland's lineup after leaving Tuesday's game in the ninth inning with a hamstring injury.
Hannahan had a two-run double Tuesday, extending his hitting streak to seven games. He is batting .417 with four doubles, eight RBIs and a .500 on-base percentage during his run.
Asdrubal Cabrera returned to the Cleveland lineup Tuesday after missing six games while on the bereavement list, and picked up right where he left off with a double and single. He is batting .400 with a homer, three doubles and six runs scored against the Royals this year, and is 6 for 12 against Hochevar since 2010.
The Indians will give the ball to Ubaldo Jimenez (2-0, 4.00), who has won both of his career starts against the Royals.
Jimenez wasn't particularly sharp in Kansas City on April 15, yielding four runs and nine hits in five innings, but was backed by Cleveland's highest offensive output of the season in a 13-7 victory.
Jimenez was also a little shaky in Friday's 4-3 win over Oakland, allowing six hits and five walks in six innings, but only gave up two runs and earned the victory. The right-hander struck out three, continuing an alarming pattern.
After averaging 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings each of the last two seasons, Jimenez is averaging 5.5 strikeouts per nine in 2012.