Shin-Soo Choo has been the Cleveland Indians’ top hitter this season, and he’s had plenty of success on the road against the Kansas City Royals throughout his career.
Whether he’ll be in Cleveland’s lineup when its three-game series begins Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium remains to be seen.
The fading Indians have watched Chicago and Detroit make bold moves to improve their chances of capturing the AL Central crown as Cleveland has stood pat while reportedly putting Choo on the trade market.
The Indians (50-52) lost 5-1 on Sunday and were outscored 28-6 while being swept in Minnesota. They fell two games below .500 for the first time since they were 2-4 on April 13.
“I’d be lying if I told you this doesn’t deflate you a little bit,” said Shelley Duncan, who drove in the team’s only run. “It’s one of those things where this time of year you start to scoreboard watch a little bit. After the game you check and see how other teams did.”
The Indians’ chances of getting back into the postseason race may take a hit if they deal Choo, who leads the team with a .291 average and 66 runs scored while hitting a team high-tying 12 homers.
The trade deadline will have passed before Tuesday’s contest begins, and Choo is aware he may not be around for the first pitch.
“The first time I heard the rumor I was like, ‘Really? The Indians would try to trade me?'” Choo told the team’s official website. “But I can’t control that. I don’t have a no-trade clause. It’s up to the team. If they trade me, I’d have to go. So I’ll just play. That’s all I can do.”
Cleveland has won seven of the last eight matchups in Kansas City, and Choo has been a major part of that run. He’s a .356 career hitter at Kauffman Stadium and drove in six runs during the Indians’ three-game sweep of the Royals from April 13-15.
Kansas City (41-60) has since won four of six in Cleveland.
Its latest experience on the road was much less positive. The Royals wrapped up a 1-6 trip Sunday with a 7-6 loss that finished a four-game sweep in Seattle.
“It’s like every day one facet of our game is costing us and it’s just the way it’s been,” said designated hitter Billy Butler, one of the team’s few bright spots lately while going 10 for 17 over his last five games. “Everybody in here can account for their reasons of losing each game, and one side of each day is coming up short, and we just got to figure it out.”
Luke Hochevar hopes to help the Royals get back on track and improve on his latest rough outing after allowing eight runs in three innings of an 11-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
Hochevar (6-9, 5.26 ERA) went 6 1-3 innings to beat Cleveland 8-2 on April 25, but he’s only 2-4 with a 6.31 ERA in his last six starts versus the Indians. He’d certainly love to see the Indians deal Choo, who is 15 for 25 (.600) with three homers lifetime off the right-hander.
Cleveland will counter with Derek Lowe, who beat Hochevar 8-3 on April 13 but has lost his last three starts overall.
Lowe (8-9, 5.09) gave up five runs in six innings of Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to Detroit, increasing his ERA to 9.60 during his skid. The right-hander, though, has won his last three outings versus the Royals with a 3.32 ERA.