Franmil Reyes aims to continue his power surge on Friday when the host Cleveland Indians play the second contest of their four-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
Reyes belted a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning of the Indians’ 7-4 victory over the Royals on Thursday. His third homer in as many contests snapped Cleveland’s season-high nine-game losing skid and sent Kansas City to its 10th straight road defeat.
Reyes said his teammates’ confidence remained high despite the club’s considerable troubles of late.
“I know my guys. I’ve have been playing with these guys since I was playing in the minor leagues,” Reyes said. “I know how much love they have for this game. The way we treat each other in the clubhouse is really respectful.”
Reyes is 8-for-21 with three homers, nine RBIs and four runs scored in five games this month. He is 7-for-25 with two homers, seven RBIs and six runs scored against the Royals this season.
Cleveland right-hander Triston McKenzie (1-3, 6.38 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to start Friday’s game. He will be making his first start for the Indians since allowing one run while walking four batters in two-thirds of an inning against the Seattle Mariners on June 12.
Overall, McKenzie produced mixed results during his previous stint with Cleveland. He struck out 59 batters in 42 1/3 innings, but his 39 free passes left plenty to be desired.
The 23-year-old showed promise in his last start with the Clippers. Sure, he allowed three runs on four hits in five innings on Sunday, but he struck out seven and issued only one walk.
“It sounds like his strike throwing, his balls in the strike zone, were better,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I know it’s not the major league level, but that’s where he was pitching. You like to see improvement as opposed to not.”
McKenzie sports a 2-0 record with a 1.83 ERA in four career appearances against Kansas City. He is 1-0 in two outings vs. the Royals this season, including a two-hit performance over five innings in a 4-0 win on May 6.
McKenzie would be wise to tread carefully around Carlos Santana, who torched his former team with a pair of solo homers in the series opener. Prior to Thursday’s performance, Santana was 1-for-23 with five strikeouts against the team with which he spent 10 seasons.
Despite Santana’s heroics, Kansas City sustained its 13th loss in its past 16 games and sixth in seven outings against Cleveland this season.
“We all have utmost confidence in each other as a whole, and we’re going to keep grinding, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” pitcher Danny Duffy said. “We’re going to come out of this little funk.”
Royals right-hander Brad Keller (6-9, 6.39) will provide the opposition on Friday.
Keller, 25, fell to 0-5 in his past six outings despite yielding two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 6-2 setback to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
He is 2-2 with a 2.08 ERA in eight career appearances (six starts) against Cleveland. Keller has kept Jose Ramirez (3-for-13), Roberto Perez (1-for-10, four strikeouts) and Cesar Hernandez (0-for-7) in check.
–Field Level Media