The Indians begin a weekend series on Friday night against the Kansas City Royals in a set that has suddenly taken on a lot of luster, thanks to their addition yesterday of Jim Thome to take on the designated hitter duties for the Tribe.
Thome, who of course all Indians' fans are so familiar with from his days with the Tribe in the '90s and early '00s (glory days for the Indians for sure) is 40, but there is no doubt that he can still get the job done, as evidenced by his two homeruns at Comerica Park on the day he reached 600 homers for his career.
It is also worth noting that Thome has more jacks against Detroit than he does vs. any team, and that could come in...handy. Especially since Cleveland faces the Tigers six more times, and trails Detroit by 6.5 games, but only by five in the loss column.
Meanwhile, to tonight's game.
The Royals come in out of any hope for postseason contention, and that makes them dangerous, probably just as dangerous as the out-of-it Seattle Mariners, who just administered a crushing 3-of-4 blow to the Tribe's chances.
Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 7.29 ERA in the American League) gets the start in tonight's 7:05 game, coming off of a very disappointing start in Detroit on Sunday, a game in which he gave up eight runs in just 3.1 innings.
If there is a reason for immediate optimism (besides the obvious with Thome), it is that Jimenez is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in eight innings of work with the Tribe at home, after he beat the Tigers at Progressive Field on August 10.
The Royals will send Felipe Paulino to the hill tonight in a battle of two pitchers who were both with the Colorado Rockies to begin this season.
With Kansas City Paulino is 2-5 with a 3.91 ERA. In his only career appearance vs. the Tribe, he received a no-decision after going six scoreless innings on July 30 in a game the Indians eventually won 5-2. In that game Paulino allowed only four hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.
This series will continue with another 7:05 game on Saturday night before wrapping up on Sunday at 1:05. The Indians are slated to send Fausto Carmona tomorrow and Justin Masterson on Sunday, and the last thing Cleveland needs is what happened the last time the Royals came to town. In that series from July 29-31, Kansas City took 2-of-3 from The Good Guys.
At this becoming-desperate stage of the season, the Tribe simply cannot afford to lose series -- any series.