Royals’ offense looks to bounce back as Indians’ Clevinger makes first start of 2017

Royals ace Danny Duffy will face off against Indians starter Mike Clevinger, who will be making his first major league appearance of 2017.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Clevinger will be the starter for the Cleveland Indians in Sunday’s final game of this weekend series against the Kansas City Royals.

Clevinger began the season with Triple-A Columbus and will be activated Sunday. He went 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in six International League starts, striking out 32 in 30 innings.

He said he was throwing the ball “really well” in the minors. Clevinger was 3-3 with a 5.26 ERA in 17 games, 10 of them starts, last season with Cleveland.

“I accomplished the goals I was setting out for; commanding the fastball, but not just that — commanding all three pitches,” Clevinger said. “I did a pretty good job of that, besides a few mistakes here or there.

The Indians adjusted Clevinger’s delivery, so he is not throwing across his body.

“That was a tough adjustment,” Clevinger said. “I almost feel like I’ve been doing it my whole life, I just kept inching over more and more. And to bring it back was almost like a regression. It was hard work to get back to it, but I think we’re in a good spot now.”

Clevinger has been averaging only five innings per start, but opponents are hitting just .215 off him.

“His pitch count has been getting up there so he hasn’t pitched very deep,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But he’s been throwing very well.”

Clevinger moves into the spot vacated by Corey Kluber, who is on the disabled list with lower back issues.

“I’m just here to keep us in ball games,” Clevinger said. “I can’t be Corey Kluber. I mean, I want to be, obviously, but I’m just here to help us win.”

The Royals will counter with left-hander Danny Duffy, their Opening Day starter.

The bottom of the order has been doing most of the damage off Duffy. The 7-8-9 hitters are hitting .333 with three doubles, a triple and home run. Nos. 1-6 are hitting .247 off Duffy.

It is not the pitching that has let down the Royals this season, but the offense. Kansas City lost 3-1 Saturday and it marked the 10th time the Royals scored one run or less.

“It’s tough to go through a stretch like this,” said center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who doubled and scored the lone run. “We’ve still got a long season to go. Guys still care in here.

“It definitely hurts to go through a rough stretch to start the season like this. It’s not over until it’s over.”

Cain knows the Indians are a formidable club, the defending American League champs.

“We know we’re facing a good team, definitely a great hitting team, a great pitching team, overall just a good team. We’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game,” he said.

Cain leads he club with a .392 on-base percentage, drawing 18 walks, twice as many as any other Royal.

Eric Hosmer has raised his average to .270 with a 10-game hitting streak.

The Royals added outfielder Jorge Soler to the roster. He was activated from the disabled list after missing the first 28 games with an oblique strain. He went 0-for-3 Saturday

“By swinging the bat, getting hits, power,” Royals manager Ned Yost said on how Soler can help the offense.