The Cleveland Indians, mired in their longest losing streak under manager Terry Francona, will aim to snap a nine-game skid on Thursday when they open a four-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals.
The Royals aren’t singing a happy tune either, having dropped 12 of their last 15 games, including nine in a row on the road.
Francona’s charges are limping home after being on the business end of a doubleheader sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla. They followed up an 8-1 shellacking in the opener with a hitless performance in the nightcap.
Although technically not deemed a no-hitter in the eyes of Major League Baseball, the end result of the 4-0 setback served as the third time this season that Cleveland has been held without a hit. The Indians were no-hit by the Chicago White Sox’s Carlos Rodon on April 14 and again by the Cincinnati Reds’ Wade Miley on May 7.
“Well, the one thing I know is the way not to (get back on track) is to kind of feel sorry for yourself and woe is me,” Francona said. “We certainly can’t do that. It’s a rough time for us. We’ll try to come out (Thursday) with good energy. I know it’s hard to show energy when you’re just making right turns like today. We got to try to stay positive.”
Franmil Reyes belted a solo homer in the opener on Wednesday before sitting out the nightcap. He is 7-for-17 with two homers and six RBIs in four games since being activated from the injured list after recovering from a strained oblique.
Reyes is 6-for-21 with four extra-base hits (three doubles, homer) against Kansas City this season. He is 3-for-8 versus Thursday starter Danny Duffy (4-3, 2.60 ERA).
Duffy, 32, owns a 5-13 record with a 4.81 ERA in 25 career appearances (21 starts) against Cleveland after splitting a pair of decisions this season.
Duffy has kept Jose Ramirez (7-for-37) at bay, but Cesar Hernandez (5-for-14) has enjoyed success against him.
The Indians look to change their fortunes on Thursday when right-hander Zach Plesac (4-3, 4.14 ERA) is reinstated from the injured list. He last pitched on May 23 before being sidelined with a broken right thumb sustained in an unsuccessful attempt to take off his undershirt.
“Thursday will be an abbreviated start because of where he is in the rehab process,” Francona said Monday. “Then he’ll go out to Arizona over the All-Star (break) and throw a simulated game on Tuesday where he can get out to about 75 pitches. Then we can hopefully bring him back against Oakland on (July 18) where he can get out to about 85 pitches. That’s the plan.”
Plesac, 26, has dominated Kansas City thus far in his career, posting a 5-0 record with a 1.83 ERA in six starts. He has kept Whit Merrifield (3-for-17) and Hunter Dozier (3-for-15) under wraps.
Dozier went 1-for-11 in the series against the Reds, although he nearly changed the complexion of the Royals’ 5-2 loss on Wednesday. He belted a long flyout to deep left field with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning.
“As soon as he hit it, I thought it was gone,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “It didn’t sound good when it came off the bat, but it looked right. We were probably wishing it out of the ballpark as much as anything, but it was so close to being what we were looking for.”
The Royals have lost five of the six games against the Indians this season.
–Field Level Media