Indians-Royals Preview

Shin-Soo Choo has been the Cleveland Indians’ top hitter this

season, but his name was one of many rumored to be on the block at

the trade deadline.

Unfortunately for the Royals, Choo appears to be staying

put.

Choo looks to continue his impressive hitting in Kansas City on

Tuesday night when the fading Indians open a three-game series with

the last-place Royals.

Cleveland (50-52) watched Chicago and Detroit make bold moves to

improve their chances of capturing the AL Central crown, and seemed

like it could be in sell-mode prior to Tuesday’s deadline as it

reportedly made Choo available.

The team leader in average (.291) and runs (66) stayed put, but

Choo’s club has a lot of work to do to catch the White Sox and

Tigers after being outscored 28-6 while being swept in Minnesota

over the weekend. The Indians 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 in

Sunday’s 5-1 loss. “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.”

Cleveland, though, 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.”

With the AL’s worst record, Kansas City unloaded closer Jonathan

Broxton to Cincinnati prior to Tuesday’s deadline in exchange for a

pair of minor league pitchers.

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 certainly would have preferred for

the Indians to 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.