Kansas City looks to avoid the sweep at the hands of Cleveland and salvage on of its last five games heading into the 2013 MLB All-Star Break. Two former – and arguably current – aces go toe to toe in this one. James Shields battles Ubaldo Jimenez in an AL Central battle that opens with the Indians listed as -112 favorites.
James Shields did not fare well in his last outing against the Indians. The veteran right-hander labored through five and a third innings where he surrendered nine hits and five earned runs. Despite his struggles, Shields was able to help his team to the win, which marks the last team for the club. Kansas City is on a four game losing streak and badly needs their stopper to prove himself in this game. Shields has had some success against the Cleveland lineup in his career. In a rather large sample size of over 190 total at-bats, the Indians lineup hits just a career .230 mark against the former Tampa Bay stud. Of all players, Mike Aviles has the most career success against Shields with a nine for 24 career mark. Shields thrives when his club has its back up against the wall. Expect him to come out and throw the ball well in a desperate spot against a division rival. Kansas City badly needs a win before the break in a division they are not out of by any stretch of the imagination.
It won’t come easy for Shields. He is opposed by a former ace in Ubaldo Jimenez. Ubaldo has found it of late to channel the top of the rotation mold he formerly held as a member of the Colorado Rockies. Jimenez has not allowed more than three runs in any single start since he allowed six against a formidable Detroit lineup in mid to late May. Jimenez has also been excellent against the Kansas City Royals lineup over his career. In just under 200 career at-bats, the Royals lineup has hit a career .215 against Jimenez. This all being said, Jimenez has struggled to produce quality outings in Cleveland. He appears to be much more comfortable away from home where his ERA is just about 2.50 runs per game larger than when he travels. The Kansas City lineup has struggled to find success against Ubaldo but this team has capable bats that have yet to really come out of the woodwork for consistent periods of time this season. Jimenez and his 1.45 WHIP are enough to retain a certain level of skepticism.
Look for Kansas City and James Shields to come out desperate tomorrow in Cleveland in a game where the Indians seem to have the clear pitching matchup. The Indians boast a big-time lineup but Shields lives for these moments when his team really needs him. Kansas City appears to have value as the live ‘dog in this one.
Free Pick: Kansas City Royals +104