Last night's meeting between the Indians and Royals was highlighted by the presence of several players who have spent time in the minor leagues this season. But while Kansas City is looking at its younger players with an eye towards next season, injuries are forcing Cleveland's hand.
The Tribe hope to have one healthy bat back this afternoon as they try to avoid a series loss to the Royals in the finale of a three-game set.
Cleveland was without shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera last night after the All-Star fouled a pitch off his left knee moments before hitting his career-high 22nd homer of the season. He was forced to exit the game early, but hopes to be back for today's game.
The Indians could use him. They are currently missing several starters due to injury, including Grady Sizemore, Jason Kipnis, Travis Hafner, Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo. The made the absence of Cabrera tougher to bare in last night's 5-1 defeat that dropped Cleveland 6 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the American League Central. Shorthanded or not, the Indians host the Tigers for three games beginning on Monday.
"It's our team. We can't sit here and complain. [The Royals] ran out there four guys that were in Omaha. We run five that were in Columbus, so you've just got to get out there and fight and try to win the ball game," said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, referring to the two team's Triple-A clubs.
Kansas City's Luke Hochevar gave up a sacrifice fly to Carlos Santana in the first inning, but kept Cleveland off the scoreboard the rest of the way while striking out eight batters over his eight innings. Jeff Francoeur came right back to smack a two-run double in the bottom of the frame to put the Royals ahead for good.
"That was big. I cost myself that run in the first, then to turn around and get two like that, that's big," said Hochevar, who lasted at least eight innings for the second time in 29 outings this year.
Johnny Giavotella hit a solo homer for the Royals, who have won four of their last seven.
Gomez went 0-2 with a 5.70 earned run average over his first five appearances of the season, including four starts, before returning to the majors on Tuesday. In his first outing since July 17, the 23-year-old held Oakland to one unearned run over six innings, working around six hits and a walk to pick up the win and lower his ERA to 4.55.
The righty made his season debut on April 19 versus the Royals and struggled in a loss. He was charged with five runs over 4 1/3 innings, falling to 1-2 with a 4.29 ERA in four career starts versus them.
After struggling through most of August, Jeff Francis has been sharp over his past two outings and the Royals lefty looks to carry that momentum into September this afternoon.
Francis went 0-3 with an 8.27 ERA over his first four starts of August, but closed the month 1-0 in two outings while allowing two runs over 12 1/3 innings. Following a victory at Toronto on Aug. 25, the 30-year-old hurled 6 1/3 shutout innings at Detroit in a no-decision. He gave up just two hits and a walk.
Francis is 5-14 with a 4.64 ERA in 28 starts this season, including a victory over the Indians on July 29. The veteran unleashed eight scoreless innings of four-hit ball in that outing and is 2-2 with a 5.16 ERA against Cleveland lifetime.
Cleveland is 11-6 against the Royals this season.