With the Tigers taking on the White Sox about three hours earlier than the Indians take the field on Saturday against the Royals, the Tribe will probably know — or have a pretty good idea — by the time their 7:10 game begins if they will need to win to keep pace with Detroit or be in a position to pick up a game and move within 4.5 games of first place.
Regardless of how Detroit does though, Cleveland can use a victory over Kansas City. Not only would a win be the Indians’ 70th of the season (more than they have had since 2008), it would also give them a guaranteed series win over the Royals going into the series finale on Sunday at 2:10.
David Huff will get the call for the Tribe in Saturday’s game. Huff (2-2, 2.08 ERA) has been superb in all but one of his appearances for the Indians in 2011, and won in his last start, when he went six innings and surrendered only three hits and no runs in a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Huff has not faced the Royals this season, and in his career is 2-1 with a high 5.60 ERA, but in just 17.2 innings of work.
Kansas City will counter with Luke Hochevar (9-10, 4.97 ERA). Hochevar has made two appearances this year vs. The Good Guys: way back on April 20 in KC, in a game in which he went six innings and gave up six runs in what eventually became a 7-5 Cleveland win; and on April 26 in Cleveland, when he put up a near mirror-image, going 6.1 frames and allowing six runs.
Hochevar is 3-7 vs. the Tribe in 10 career starts, having worked 57.2 innings against Cleveland, with a 5.93 ERA.
Hochevar won his last time out, defeating the Tigers in Detroit on August 29. In that game Hochevar allowed five runs in seven innings, but was aided strongly by his offense in a 9-5 Kansas City win.
As noted above, this series will conclude on Sunday at 2:10, when Jeanmar Gomez faces the Royals’ Jeff Francis.