The Royals are having a rough time, and the Indians are a team that seemed to get it started, putting up 32 runs in the first three game series at Kauffman Stadium in 2012.
After dropping all ten games at home to start the year, the Royals hit the road and hope to turn it around. Their first stop is Cleveland, where they get a chance to exorcise the losing demons.
To get a feel for the series, Lewie Pollis, editor of FanSided’s Wahoo’s On First and I exchanged a few questions to get the other side of the story. My side of things is over on their site, so you can check it out and read my questions and Lewie’s responses:
Is there any fear as an Indians fan that you might catch the Royals when they’re “due” to break out?
In theory, yes. In practice, no. Before the season started we at Wahoo’s on First devoted one of our preseason “Weekly Wroundtables” to discussing which of our AL Central rivals we were most worried about for 2012 besides the Tigers; it was virtually unanimous for the Royals because of their upside. That said, I think most Indians fans very much look forward to watching the Tribe off against Kansas City when our teams meet.
The Royals have been awful with runners on during this stretch, but not at getting runners on. Who does Cleveland turn to in the middle innings to shut down a potential rally in this series?
That isn’t really clear. Aside from the Joe Smith-Vinnie Pestano-Chris Perez connection at the end of a close game we haven’t seen Manny Acta use his bullpen in an easily categorical way—a lot of that is due to starters not going as deep into games as they ideally should, as you saw when the Indians were in Kansas City.
You’d probably see Tony Sipp in the middle innings, maybe Rafael Perez if there’s a platoon advantage to be had or Dan Wheeler if the game is still young. But it depends on the situation and how much the bullpen has been drained by the end of the series.
Do you think there’s going to be more bean ball shenanigans with Sanchez on the mound again?
I don’t know man, that one’s on you guys. Sanchez broke Shin-Soo Choo‘s thumb last year, then he beans him again this year and doesn’t show a single ounce of remorse? Just think about that for a second. If you hit someone like that in real life and it was unintentional, wouldn’t you feel bad? Wouldn’t you apologize? I know that’s not general practice in baseball, but in the words of GOB Bluth: COME ON! I don’t know what Sanchez could possibly have against Choo, but it sure seems like he’s got something.
Royals fans were pretty happy booing Jack Hanahan and Shin-Soo Choo all weekend. Chris Perez incurred a fine for talking some trash. Is this a growing rivalry to you?
I don’t know that “rivalry” is the right word. The Indians perceived Sanchez’ beanball to be a deliberate attack on Choo—given his demeanor and their history, I don’t blame them—and responded as baseball players are wont to do. It’s never good to see bad blood between teams and if you forget the unwritten rules of baseball for a moment the more mature response would have been for the Tribe take the high road and let the lopsided score be their revenge. But Sanchez started this, and right or wrong it wasn’t surprising that Cleveland responded in kind.
The Royals managed to score some in the first series but just gave up too many. Who’s pitching for Cleveland and what adjustments will they look to make this time?
First up is Derek Lowe, meaning the Indians will live or die with his sinker. When it’s working for him, he’s golden. You’ll recall that he held the Royals to three runs in 6.2 innings two weeks ago. If it’s not, the Royals should be able to tee off. You should be able to tell pretty quickly what kind of night it is for him—his last time out he gave up a leadoff home run to Chone Figgins and things pretty much went downhill from there.
Ya’ll will draw Josh Tomlin in game two. The best thing about Tomlin is that he throws the ball over the plate. He led all of baseball in BB/9 last year and it’s been more than a year since the last time he walked more than one batter in a game. But the worst thing about Tomlin is also that he throws the ball over the plate. He’s a flyball pitcher whose fastball usually sits in the high 80’s, so when he makes his pitches a little too juicy bad things can happen.
Finally you’ll get Ubaldo Jimenez, and no one has any idea what to expect from him. His overall line so far (2-0, 4.00 ERA) looks good, but his peripherals have Tribe fans collectively tugging on their shirt collars and looking around nervously. It’s been only three start so far and he looked great in his season debut, but his game depends on the strikeout and he has only 11 punchouts through 18 innings so far. Even more alarming is that he’s also allowed 11 walks. He has the best stuff in the rotation, but he’s so erratic that you guys could have some fun with him.
Royals sweep THIS time, right, Lewie?
Absolutely! That’s a funny way to spell “Indians,” though.