MLB

Royals must try to burst Indians' light clubhouse atmosphere

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Manager Terry Francona decided to liven up the Cleveland clubhouse before Friday night's game with the Kansas City Royals.

With 23 games in 23 dates, a doubleheader on Thursday and Kansas City the last stop of an 11-game, four-city trip, Francona arranged to have a DJ for the clubhouse and a Pop-A-Shot basketball competition.

"We were all getting a little tired," Francona said. "It's just kind of our way of showing them that, one, we acknowledge the fact that they're out there playing so much, but also that we care.

"The game is the most important thing, and that's where you want your energy. But in the meantime, I don't think it hurts to have a little bit of fun."

The basketball shooting competition will continue through the weekend. Francona tried his luck, but without much success. The DJ played mostly hip-hop and rap.

"That would not be my song list," Francona said, laughing.

The Indians had a laugher in thumping the Royals 10-1 in the first game of athree-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

The two teams meet again Saturday with right-hander Trevor Bauer going for the Indians and left-hander Jason Vargas starting for the Royals.

How important is this series to the Royals?

"I was just waiting for that question," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "(Wondering) who was going to ask that brilliant question. It's a big series, yeah. These games are two-game swings. It's a huge series."

A Royals victory Friday would have pulled them with 4 1/2 games of the Indians, but the loss dropped them 6 1/2 games in arrears. And with the Minnesota victory, the Royals fell into third place in the American League Central.

Bauer will be making his ninth career appearance against the Royals. He has a 1-2 record with a 3.43 ERA versus Kansas City. This will be his 24th start of the season. He is 4-3 with a 5.82 ERA in nine road appearances, eight of them starts.

Eric Hosmer is 5-for-15 with a home run and three RBIs against Bauer. Alcides Escobar has a .316 average (6-for-19) versus Bauer, and Alex Gordon is 2-for-12 (.167) with a home run against him.

Vargas is 14-6 with a 3.45 ERA. The 14 victories match his career high set in 2012.

He has dominated the Indians in his time with the Royals, going 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts. Vargas is 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA -- two earned runs in 20 2/3 innings -- against the Indians this year. Heis 7-3 with a 3.30 ERA in 12 home starts in 2017.

While the Indians have won seven of their last eight games, the Royals have lost 12 of 18 starting on July 31. The Royals were seven games above .500 and two games behind the Indians after a win at Boston on July 30.

After the loss Friday, they are one game above .500 and have lost five of their past six Kauffman Stadium games. They still have nine games remaining with the Indians, but the last seven are in Cleveland.