Series Preview: Kansas City Royals @ Cleveland Indians
A consolation prize is better than no prize at all. That is what the Royals were thinking after back-to-back, one-sided losses in Detroit. The Royals battled back in game three to salvage the series and avoid another sweep. The Royals seemed to have fallen apart where they were the most solid in the Chicago series. Their defense had two errors in game one (they had three throughout the whole series), which combined with the twelve hits from the Tigers was more than enough against the Royals. The pitching and timely hitting was also not there in the first two games.
Sullivan, the starter of game three, pitched better than first two starters. He only allowed three earned runs in seven solid innings of work. Unfortunately, this effort did not earn him a win. It took twelve innings for the boys in blue to get a victory. This extra inning affair is the fourth one for the Royals in the past five days.
The Royals are in Cleveland this weekend before heading back home to begin the month of September. The Royals took a series from the Indians last week in KC.
Game 1: Bryan Bullington (1-2) vs. Josh Tomlin (1-3)
Bryan Bullington received a piece of humble pie in his start versus Chicago after fooling the Yankees. He endured an eleven-hit, six run bombardment in five innings of work. This will be his first start versus the Indians but he does have one brief relief appearance in which he allowed only one hit. It will be interesting to see which Bullington will show up, the crafty first round pick hurler who shut down the world champions, or the underachiever he has been for most of his career.
Josh Tomlin is hoping that his best stuff is not behind him at this point in his very young career. His only win so far this season came against the Yankees. Does this sound familiar to you? Since then, he has struggled mightily. His record is 0-3 in 23.1 innings pitched. He has given up twelve earned runs during this stretch while walking seven and giving up twenty-five hits. He has good stuff but has tended to rely on one-pitch per outing and as he has learned, you cannot rely on just one pitch and be an effective major league starter.
Game 2: Zack Greinke (8-11) vs. Jeanmar Gomez (3-2)
Zack Greinke was again not part of the win-loss column in his most recent start against the White Sox, even though he pitched a marvelous eight-inning gem. Greinke has stifled the Indians so far this year. He is 2-0, including his most recent start against them. He went six strong innings and only gave up one earned run to notch his eighth win of the season. Overall, in his career he is 8-8 against the Tribe with an ERA of 3.42 and has 111 Ks. The Royals are hoping for another solid performance from their ace.
Gomez faced Greinke in his last start versus the Royals and did almost as well as Zack. He gave up only two earned runs in six innings of work but took the loss due to Greinke’s slightly superior performance. His most recent outing was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. He lasted only three innings against Detroit. He walked three, gave up eleven hits, and ended up with seven earned runs given up. His best start of the year, however, was also against Detroit. He went seven scoreless innings for the win. Jeanmar is one of the many young guns the Indians are using for the remainder of the season.
Game 3: Bruce Chen (8-7) vs. Fausto Carmona (11-12)
In his eight wins this season, Chen has been effective enough to get the outs he needs and little more. In his losses, he fails to get those crucial outs and pays heavily for it. Not only has he struggled recently with his ability to get outs but has been unable to go deep into ballgames. In only three of his last ten starts has he been able to complete the sixth inning. In his most recent start against Cleveland, he managed to go 5.2 innings while scattering eleven hits and four earned runs. Lucky for him that night the Royals’ offense was even harsher on the Indians pitching staff. This season, opponents are batting tremendously well against him with a .281 batting average.
Fausto Carmona was on the losing side of a nine-hit, seven earned run attack by the boys in blue. He is again facing Chen in consecutive series starts. He is 1-1 this year versus the Royals. In his career, he is 5-3 with an ERA of 4.96. He leads the Indians’ pitching staff with eleven wins, but is also tied for the most losses with twelve. He has two complete games under his belt this year, so he is capable of going deep into ball games. Despite his ability to go deep in to ball games, he has only one win since July 28th.
The last time these two teams met, both offenses started sluggish but by the end of the series both teams scored fifteen runs. The Royals have now dropped to third in the American League in team batting average, due to their recent team slump. The Indians have been almost as powerless as the Royals have this season.
Three errors in three games is not a good sign for the Royals’ defense, which is now tied for last in the American League. These errors give extra outs to an offense that does not need extra outs to score runs. Give Cleveland an extra out or two and they might just put the game away early.
The pitching matchups are identical to the series that took place in Kansas City a week ago. The Royals are hoping for identical or better results while Cleveland is hoping for a 180-degree flip. The first game features two young pitchers who are making their first start in this central divisional rivalry. Whoever captures game one pitching wise will have the momentum for the rest of the series.
The Royals are traveling, but only from Detroit to Clevelandm, and they also have an off-day. However, a 12-inning game leaves a bullpen weary. Bullington will be expected to go deep into the ballgame so that the bullpen can have a chance for a breather after the Detroit series. Greinke is expected to do so as well. If Chen can go at least five strong innings, the bullpen will have no problem cleaning up the rest.
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