After playing the Yankees, they Royals needed a “break” in their schedule to recover from facing a team that has simply dominated this season. The Royals did manage to split the four game series against the defending world champions. This allowed the Devil Rays to inch closer to the A.L. East division lead. The Royals should feel good about themselves going into the week. They are facing the Indians with whom they are tied with in the central division. The Royals will send their top three starting pitchers to face the tribe Monday-Wednesday before having a day off on Thursday.
The Indians also won on Sunday to salvage the series against the Mariners. They have won only five of their last thirteen games, which include series losses to Minnesota, Baltimore, and Seattle, while splitting a series against Boston. The Royals need to take advantage and distance themselves from Cleveland in the division standings. If the Royals lose the series they will occupy the basement, a spot they have been avoiding all season long.
Game 1: Jeanmar Gomez (3-0) vs. Zack Greinke (7-11)
Gomez will be making his first start versus the Royals on Monday. He is young and has been a small ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal Indians season. He has a remarkable 1.54 ERA through his first four starts. He is not much of a strikeout king but has the ability to make quality pitches when his team needs an out.
Zack Greinke made a very good statement against a good team in his last start. Unfortunately, the offense failed to help once again. He pitched an eight inning, one run, six strikeout gem that any starter in the league would be happy to have. The Royals ended up losing the game in extra innings thanks to a walk-off homerun by Bobby Abreu. Zack is 7-8 against the Indians in his career with an ERA of 3.52. He has had trouble against several Indians hitters in recent history as well; four of them have a .300 or better average. If his stuff is the way it was against the Angels, these numbers will not matter.
Game 2: Fausto Carmona (11-10) vs. Bruce Chen (7-6)
Carmona has been dominant against the Royals. Despite having a lofty ERA of 4.36, he is 5-2 against the boys in blue. In his most recent win against the Royals, he pitched five shutout innings on May 12. However, in his last ten starts, he is 5-5, including losing the last two to Minnesota and Seattle respectively. He is 11-10 on the year, but his record could easily be a game or two better.
Bruce Chen is making his first start against the Tribe, but they are not unknown to him. He is 1-2 overall with fourteen innings worked. He is looking to notch his eighth win of the season after losing to the Yankees in his last start. If he mixes his arm slots and works the corners of the strike zone, he can be very effective. His downfall is that he has left too many pitches in the middle of the plate to warrant a better record. Five innings seems to be his limit considering the majority of his starts have been at or around that in six of his last ten starts.
Game 3: Mitch Talbot (8-10) vs. Kyle Davies (6-7)
Mitch Talbot will be making his second appearance against the Royals. His first start came on May 20th. He lasted six innings but gave up six earned runs in the process. He has struggled just as much as Davies has. He has won only one game in his last ten starts. That win was clear back on June 27th versus the N.L. Central Division leading Reds. He is also making his second start since being on the disabled list. He went only four innings against the Mariners while being shelled for eight hits and four earned runs.
Kyle Davies worked hard enough to earn a victory against the Yankees. He went five innings before letting the bullpen take over. He is hoping to get to .500 for this season while trying to maintain pace with Chen and Greinke for the team lead in wins. He is 3-4 against the Indians with an atrocious 5.74 ERA. He will need to pitch just as well as he did against the Yankees in order to notch another victory.
The Royals did enough to win two out of four against a very formidable Yankees team. They will need to be just as consistent if not more so in these three games. The Royals seem to hit poorly against teams who have a lower team average than they do. This includes the Mariners, Angels, and the Yankees. The Indians are only ahead of the Seattle mariners in terms of team average. Both teams have struggled with consistent and timely hitting during the past weekend series.
Cleveland is by far the sounder defensive team this season. They have a higher fielding percentage and have turned an A.L. leading 135 double plays going into this three game series. Errors have been a problem for both teams. These two teams occupy the top two slots in the American League with 85 (Royals) errors and 83 errors (Indians). Mistake free baseball will be essential to grab the momentum needed to win the series.
Cleveland as a team is a half-run better in ERA and has given up twenty-seven less home runs than Kansas City. On the other hand, the Royals’ pitching staff is coming off on a high note in the series against the Yankees. Cleveland’s staff has been struggling since the beginning of August. If the Royals get quality starts out of their starters, their relievers should have no problem holding the lead or keeping the game tied.
Both teams won on Sunday. Both teams have lost seven of their last ten. Neither one wants to be in the basement of the American League’s weakest division. Whichever team scores first in a game will probably win it. Thus whichever team scores the quickest will win the series.