DeMarlo Hale, the acting manager of the Cleveland Indians, knows that some ballparks fit certain teams better than others. He also knows how to make adjustments when he brings his team into a park that doesn’t fit quite as well.
The visiting Indians (77-80) will face the Kansas City Royals (72-85) for the second game of a three-game series in spacious Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night. The two teams met Monday in Cleveland to make up a rainout from Sept. 22, then started the series in Kansas City on Tuesday.
The Royals will be looking to claim the series after taking a 6-4 victory Tuesday. The Indians jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first before Kansas City rallied. Salvador Perez hit his major league-leading 47th home run to give the Royals the lead in the sixth.
After the Indians tied it in the top of the eighth, the Royals scored twice in the bottom of the inning. Nicky Lopez hit a go-ahead triple and then scored on a wild pitch.
Right-hander Zach Plesac (10-6, 4.54 ERA) will get the start for the Indians on Wednesday against Royals left-hander Daniel Lynch (4-6, 5.40).
Hale believes the ballpark fits the Royals, but not just the way one might think.
“I think the difference is here the outfield is big,” he said. “Their (defensive) speed plays better on batted balls. We have to play a little bit deeper here, depending on who we have in the outfield.
“For example, with (Bradley) Zimmer, (Myles) Straw and (Oscar) Mercado, those are guys who have played center field. Those are guys who match this park a little bit. If we have a Franmil (Reyes) or a Harold Ramirez out there, I think we play a little bit deeper.”
Plesac has done his part to help the defense while facing the Royals this year, allowing just seven hits in 11 innings. He is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts this season against Kansas City.
In his career vs. Kansas City, Plesac has been even better, going 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA in eight starts.
Lynch, a rookie, has faced the Indians twice this year, going 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA.
Lynch has navigated through a season of adjustments. After going 0-2 with a 15.75 ERA in three starts during his May debut and getting demoted to the minor, he has gone 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA since returning, though he has lost his past three decisions.
After not giving up more than three runs in his first seven post-recall starts, he has allowed at least four earned runs in three of his past four starts.
As has been the case with many of the Royals’ young pitchers, the first inning has been the worst for Lynch. He has an ERA of 12.51 in the first inning, nearly double that of his second worst, the third, in which he owns a 6.35 ERA. That bit him again in his last start, Sept. 21, in Cleveland. He surrendered three runs in the opening inning, then just one more during his six-inning outing.
“It’s something that I really want to improve on,” Lynch said after that game. “It’s something that I’m aware of. But I want to work hard to make that my best inning, because I think it sets the tone for the rest of the game.”
–Field Level Media
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