Tomlin, Indians look to make fireworks in series opener vs KC

The Indians will face hard-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura (5-7, 3.26) in Friday night's series opener with the Royals.

Patrick Semansky / AP

The Cleveland Indians' Josh Tomlin had gotten knocked around before turning in one of the team's best single-game showings last weekend.

He faces a tough task up next against the Kansas City Royals, who continue to shine on the road.

Tomlin tries to build on his first shutout as the AL Central rivals open a three-game set Friday night.

Tomlin (5-5, 3.78 ERA) lost a career worst-tying three straight starts with a 7.80 ERA before overpowering Seattle in Saturday's 5-0 road win. The right-hander struck out a career-high 11 and allowed only a fifth-inning single to Kyle Seager, marking just the sixth time an Indians pitcher recorded 11 strikeouts with no walks in a shutout over the past 100 years.

"He's not going to beat himself," manager Terry Francona told MLB's official website. "He understands what to do with a lead. He was just efficient and threw a bunch of strikes with a bunch of different pitches."

Tomlin is 5-2 despite a 4.80 ERA in 10 games - eight starts - against the Royals, who he hasn't faced since 2012.

Kansas City (44-40) took two of three at Minnesota to open a nine-game trip, winning 4-0 in Wednesday's finale. Raul Ibanez homered in his second game since joining the team as a free agent and Jason Vargas threw seven strong innings.

The Royals have averaged 6.1 runs in going a major league-best 10-2 away from home since June 2.

"We've been running the ball out there and doing a good job of keeping our team in the ballgame, and when we're not the boys are stepping up and keeping us in the ballgame," Vargas said. "So we've got a good combo going on right now."

The Royals now turn to Yordano Ventura (5-7, 3.26), who allowed two runs and seven hits over four innings before his day was cut short due to a four-hour rain delay in Saturday's 6-2 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.

The rookie had gone seven innings in each of his previous three starts, including a 4-1 victory over the Indians on June 11. The hard-throwing right-hander yielded one run and six hits, improving to 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two matchups in the series.

The Indians (41-43) return home after closing a 4-4 road trip with back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We went 4-4, but it seems like we were gone a month," Francona said after Cleveland held on for a 5-4 victory Wednesday. "It's been a long trip, and this was a good way to end it. We won a tough game. That was a good one to win."

The Indians had won 11 of 12 at Progressive Field before losing three straight to division-leading Detroit from June 20-22. Owner of the Central's best home record at 23-15, Cleveland has taken nine of 12 from Kansas City at home.

At 42, Ibanez is the oldest Royal to hit a home run. He was signed Monday after the Angels cut him June 21.

"When we signed him, we talked to a lot of people, and all of our scouts," manager Ned Yost said. "And a lot of people said they felt that he still had a lot left to his game. He's showing that."

Alex Gordon -- mired in a 2-for-32 slump -- is 8 for 23 with four extra-base hits against Tomlin.

Indians catcher Yan Gomes is batting .326 over a 12-game stretch and has seven RBIs over his last seven. He's hitting .185 with two RBIs in 16 contests versus Kansas City, though.