Scouting the Indians

So which Indians team will the Royals see this week?

The one that swung big bats and swept the Royals at Kauffman Stadium in April? Or the one that played solid baseball and swept the Tigers last week? Maybe it’ll be the team that dropped two of three at home to the Royals in April. Or perhaps the team that was whipped by the White Sox this past weekend, losing a three-game set by a cumulative score of 35-16.

Cleveland gave up a whopping 42 hits to the White Sox in that series as Chicago pulled within a half-game of the first-place Indians in the American League Central.

“That’s why you can't be doing backflips in May,” Indians manager Manny Acta told reporters Sunday. “It’s way too early. Yeah, so what? We swept the Tigers three days ago and now (the White Sox) swept us. That’s how the game goes. You just have to stay positive and come out every single day and try to win every game, regardless of where you're at.”

To stop the bleeding tonight, the Indians will turn to Josh Tomlin, who is coming off the disabled list (right wrist). He is 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA, but he has three quality starts in his last four starts. The lone exception? The Royals roughed him up on April 26 as Tomlin allowed eight hits and four earned runs in 4.2 innings.

On Tuesday, Justin Masterson (2-3, 4.62 ERA) gets the start. Last week he gave up five hits and one run in seven innings as he beat the Tigers’ Justin Verlander. Masterson has five quality starts in his last six outings since his ERA ballooned to 6.65 on April 22.

The Indians haven’t said who will start on Wednesday.

Perhaps the most up-and-down Indians player of all is second baseman Jason Kipnis. He is having a nice season (.275, eight homers, 28 RBIs), but he’s done most of his damage on the road. In 26 games at Progressive Field, Kipnis is batting .202/.276/.279 with two homers and eight RBIs. In 21 games on the road, his numbers are .365/.409/.671 with six homers and 20 RBIs.

The Indians hope to have a couple of key players back.

Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who has a tight left hamstring, will run and take batting practice today. He hasn't played since leaving Friday night's game in the seventh inning. Cabrera is hitting .301 with five homers and 20 RBIs this season.

Designated hitter Travis Hafner (.242, six homers, 23 RBIs) missed the White Sox series with a sore knee.

Indians catchers Carlos Santana and Lou Marson were injured during the weekend. After a foul tip hit Santana in the mask Friday, he was placed on the seven-day disabled list Saturday with a concussion.

On Sunday, Marson was hit in the mouth by a Gavin Floyd pitch. He needed three stitches in his mouth, but told reporters he expected to play today.

Lastly, there is Johnny Damon. The former Royal has struggled since joining the Indians this year. Although Damon hit his first homer of the year on Sunday, he is batting just .158 with five RBIs in 21 games. Three of those RBIs came on Sunday’s homer. And they came in a 12-6 loss.

"It was a tough series," Damon told reporters Sunday. "We also have to remember that we're in first place."