Indians look to thaw out bats vs. Royals in home opener

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians have returned home, and their slumping hitters could probably use some home cooking.

After losing four of six games in their season-opening trip to Seattle and Anaheim, the Indians will host the Kansas City Royals on Friday afternoon in the home opener for Cleveland, weather permitting.

“I’m not looking forward to the weather, but I’m looking forward to everything else,” Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor told MLB.com.

The forecast for Friday’s late afternoon game is for temperatures in the 40s, but it would be hard for the weather to be any colder than Cleveland’s offense.

After losing two of three games to the Mariners and two of three to the Angels, the Indians came home last in the American League in hitting (.161), 14th in on-base percentage (.262), 13th in slugging (.298) and 13th in OPS (.559).

“As a club right now, we don’t have anybody hot,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

The Indians’ offense could get an immediate boost starting Friday when two-time All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley is expected to be activated off the disabled list. Brantley had right ankle surgery after the 2017 season and his rehab delayed the start of his spring training, causing him to start the season on the disabled list.

The Royals are no strangers to bad weather. Two of Kansas City’s last four scheduled games have been postponed. The Royals, who had an off day Thursday, have only played two games this week.

The Royals also have a player on the DL who is nearing activation, but perhaps not Friday. Right-hander Nate Karns (right elbow inflammation) is eligible to be activated, but manager Ned Yost suggested that may not happen.

“He felt (discomfort in the elbow) a little bit still in his last side (session), so I’d be a little surprised,” Yost told MLB.com of the chances of Karns being activated Friday.

Friday’s pitching matchup will be Kansas City’s Danny Duffy (0-1, 11.25 ERA) vs. Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 7.94). Each will be making his second start of the season.

Duffy was 0-3 with a 4.60 ERA in three starts against Cleveland last year and is 2-6 with a 4.03 ERA in 15 career appearances vs. the Indians. He’s also prepared for whatever challenges the weather throws at him Friday.

“I’ll be ready,” he said. “It’ll be cold, but we’re tough customers.”

In Duffy’s first start of the season, on opening day in Kansas City on March 29, he lost to the Chicago White Sox 14-7. In four innings, he gave up five runs and seven hits, three of them home runs.

Carrasco won his first start of the season, though he didn’t pitch particularly well. In a 6-5 win over Seattle, Carrasco pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up five runs and seven hits, including two home runs.

The Royals lost two to the White Sox and split two with the Detroit Tigers heading into Friday’s opening day in Cleveland. Last year’s season series between Cleveland and Kansas City was dominated by the Indians, who won 12 of the 19 games between the teams, outscoring the Royals 90-52.