In fact, this is a much different squad than the team we saw last on June 1. During that game, Alex Gordon belted a double and knocked in two, while Jose Guillen and Mark Grudzielanek added homers for a 6-1 win over Cleveland’s Paul Byrd.
To look at some the wheeling and dealing that the Royals and the Indians have done since they last met, let’s go Around the Horn…
Just under half of the season series was in the bag after the game on June 1. The other half will be played out quickly with 10 games (seven in Cleveland and three in K.C.) set to be in the books by September 14. One of those Cleveland games was scheduled during the Royals first trip to Progressive Field, but rain forced the May 2 game to be rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on September 13.
The Indians look a lot different this time out. The Tribe starter on June 1 is with the Red Sox (Paul Byrd made his Sox debut last Saturday). Their reigning Cy Young winner has thrown five complete games in nine starts with a 1.60 ERA for Milwaukee (CC Sabathia won his 11th straight last night). And one of the leading Royal killers has four homers, 12 RBI and 23 hits in 22 games as a Dodger (Casey Blake has hit .329 with a .388 on-base percentage during his career at Kauffman Stadium).
The Indians have jettisoned a lot, but we’ll still see their 2008 Cy Young hopeful. Cliff Lee, with his 17-2 record and 2.43 ERA, is scheduled to start Thursday’s matinee. Lee has dominated teams all year and started the All-Star game as a reward for his performance.
Injuries have also struck the Indians who are missing slugger Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez. Both are on the mend and on schedule to return soon. Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery) and Scott Elarton are on the D.L. as well.
To combat their pitching losses, the Tribe acquired Anthony Reyes, among others, who we will see tonight. Reyes is making his third start for Cleveland and is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA (3-2, 3.67 ERA in 2008). He was a Cardinal before being traded and is 1-0 versus K.C., when he allowed four hits over 5.2 innings and no runs. Tomorrow the Indians have Zach Johnson who’s making just his second start of the year.
Cleveland has also found a hot bat with Kelly Shoppach. Filling in for injured catcher Victor Martinez, Shoppach hit .275 in June and .318 in July. He collected 14 RBI each month and homered four and six times, respectively. Most impressively, Shoppach became just the sixth player in the modern era to get five extra base hits in a game with three doubles and two homers. He ended the game on July 30 versus Detroit with 14 total bases and added a walk.
The newest Royal was the Opening Day pitcher for the Rockies. Today, the Royals signed Kip Wells, who had some trouble this season with a blood clot in his right hand which cost him two and a half months. He will wear No. 40.
Wells joins fellow former Rockie Ramon Ramirez in the bullpen and takes the place of lefty Josh Newman, another former Coloradan. Wells has been good in the bullpen during his career, which is where the Royals plan to have him pitch for now. In 41 games, he’s 4-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 73.2 innings, striking out 62 and walking 35 while allowing just three homers.
Wells will look to help shore up a pen which is missing dominant set-up man Ron Mahay, who pitched over the weekend but is still bothered by foot problems and has seen a lot of work recently.
Tonight’s starter Luke Hochevar picked up his first career road win at Progressive Field earlier this season…Miguel Olivo returns from his four-game suspension tonight…Kansas City pitchers are 40-46 with a 4.55 ERA…Paulo Orlando, the player the Royals received for Horacio Ramirez from the White Sox, is hitting .364 with High-A Wilmington over his first eight games.
The Royals have announced first round draft pick Eric Hosmer will be at Kauffman Stadium on Friday to meet with the media at 3:30 p.m. Hosmer will also take batting practice after the press conference. On Saturday, he will begin his professional career at Idaho Falls as a Chukar.
In other draft news, Michael Montgomery is 2-1 with a 1.51 ERA in 10 games and seven starts with the Surprise Royals, the rookie league team in Arizona.
Upcoming Promos: Banner Flags (man, they are big!) on Saturday and Soria T-shirts on Tuesday. Plus Saturday is Christian Family Night.
Make sure you don’t miss out on Around the Horn’s interview with Jerry Krause: ex-Bulls GM and Mets pro scout.
Today’s Official Game Notes.