The Kansas City Royals start a three game weekend series against the Cleveland Indians tonight at Progressive Field in Cleveland and they do so with a slightly odd looking starting lineup. The September lineups are always a time for experimentation, of course, but this time the oddities are injury enforced; both Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar picked up right shoulder injuries in the game on Thursday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers and will not start tonight.
Backup catcher Brayan Peña actually played most of yesterday’s game at first after Hosmer left, but today that slot will be occupied by Billy Butler with Adam Moore taking over duties as the designated hitter. Tony Abreu got the nod over Irving Falu to replace Escobar at shortstop today and will also inherit his number two position in the batting order.
The lineup will be in support of left-hander Will Smith who is looking for his seventh win of the season. After a rocky start to his big league career, Smith has been quite solid for the Royals in his second stint with the major league club and has defeated the Indians both times he has faced them. Most recent of those was last Saturday in Kansas City where he lasted seven innings and conceded just two runs, but he also recorded his first ever big league win against the Indians in Cleveland way back on the 29th of May. In that outing he gave up two runs on only four hits in six innings. All together in the month of September he is 2-2 with a 3.24 ERA.
Opposing Smith is David Huff, a September callup who is trying to pitch his way into next season’s plans for the Indians. Huff has pitched in four games this month (only two of which were starts) and is yet to be defeated going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA. Both of his last outings were starts including last Sunday at Kauffman Stadium in which he held the Royals to only Moore’s solo home run en route to a victory.
The Indians are on a bit of a roll, having won two of three against the Chicago White Sox and the Royals have lost five in a row. Still, I think the Royals have a decent chance to win. Smith has been reliable and the Royals have tended to do well against the Indians recently. (Then again, who hasn’t?) They need to put the series in Detroit behind them and start fresh and if they can do that I think they will be in great shape.