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
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
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.