Indians-Royals Preview

Josh Tomlin has a chance to be part of an achievement that only

three other sets of Cleveland Indians pitchers have accomplished in

more than 90 years.

The right-hander looks to become the second Cleveland pitcher in

as many days to start 4-0 when he faces the Kansas City Royals on

Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Justin Masterson allowed two runs over six innings to win his

fourth straight start to open the season in Wednesday’s 7-5 victory

over Kansas City. A victory by Tomlin (3-0, 2.75 ERA) in the finale

of this four-game set would mark the fourth time since 1920 that at

least two Indians pitchers won their first four starts in the same

season.

After Jim Bagby, Stan Coveleski and Duster Mails did it in 1920,

Mel Harder and Bob Lemon were both 4-0 in 1947. Scott Lewis and

Cliff Lee matched the feat in 2008.

Tomlin, who won the only open spot in Cleveland’s rotation

during spring training after going 6-4 with a 4.56 ERA in 2010, has

allowed six runs and 12 hits in 19 2-3 innings.

He gave up a pair of solo homers in six innings of an 8-3 win

over Baltimore on Saturday.

“He doesn’t let the game speed up on him,” manager Manny Acta

told the Indians’ official website. “He’s very good at damage

control when he gets in those types of situations. That’s the

difference between him and some other guys.”

Tomlin is 2-1 with a 5.68 ERA against the Royals. The loss came

in his only appearance at Kauffman Stadium, where he allowed six

runs in five innings Sept. 19.

Tied with Colorado for the best record in the majors, Cleveland

(13-5) overcame a 2-0 deficit Wednesday to win for the fifth time

in six games. The Indians, who have an early two-game lead over

second-place Kansas City (11-7) in an AL Central that appears

upside down, have averaged 6.3 runs during that stretch.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner each had two hits Wednesday

while Jack Hannahan drove in two runs as Cleveland scored four

times in the sixth inning to improve to 6-3 on the road.

“We definitely have the talent,” Masterson said. “We’re going to

keep fighting. It’s a long season but I think we’ve got a lot going

for us.”

Hafner is 9 for 18 in his last six games, but 1 for 5 against

Sean O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan (1-1, 5.00) will make his second straight start in

place of the injured Vin Mazzaro after giving up five hits in five

innings of a 7-0 victory over Seattle on Saturday.

The right-hander went 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against

the Indians last season.

Though the Royals have lost three of four, Alex Gordon tripled

Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He’s batting

.391 with all 14 of his RBIs during that stretch.

Teammate Jeff Francoeur has hit in 10 straight after going 2 for

4 with a two-run homer and three RBIs. He is hitting .395 with two

home runs and 11 RBIs over that span.

Third baseman Wilson Betemit has hit safely in 11 consecutive

games, giving the Royals three players with double-digit hitting

streaks for the first time since May 22, 2001.