The sight of home will be a welcome one for the Tribe.
With a West Coast road trip in the books, the Indians return to Progressive Field, where they are a division-best 23-15 this season, to begin a 10-game homestand leading up to the All-Star break. With the Royals on tap for the first of a three-game set on Friday -- the Fourth of July -- Cleveland hopes the home cooking can lead to fireworks on the field as it looks to gain ground in the American League Central race.
The last time the two clubs met, the Royals claimed both games of a two-game set, outscoring the Tribe by a combined 13-6 at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City trails first-place Detroit by 4 1/2 games, while sporting a three-game lead over third-place Cleveland in the AL Central standings.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin has not faced the Royals this season, but the right-hander does have the distinction of having thrown a one-hit shutout against the Mariners in his last outing. Not known for his reputation as a strikeout artist, Tomlin fanned 11 while issuing zero walks.
"I knew I felt good and I knew I was commanding the ball to both sides of the plate," Tomlin said. "I was on the same page as [catcher Yan Gomes] from the get-go and, the way the defense was playing, it was turning out to be a good night.
The stellar start, which took 111 pitches to complete, featured 64 fastballs, 24 cutters, 19 curveballs and four changeups, with Tomlin generating 18 swings-and-misses.
"He pitched exactly to the game plan," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "He did everything we asked, as far as what we talked about in the advance meeting. He did a really good job with that."
The Royals will counter with right-hander Yordano Ventura, whose last start was cut short by a nearly four-hour rain delay on Saturday against the Angels. He gave up two earned runs on seven hits in four innings, while striking out three.
"Obviously, I was disappointed. I was prepared to pitch, and I wanted to go back out there, but there was no way I was going to go back out after that rain delay," Ventura said.
The Indians got the better of the Royals in their last set at Progressive Field, taking the series three games to one in April while holding KC to 15 runs across the four contests.
Royals: Chen could pitch on Friday
Reliever Bruce Chen will likely be available out of the bullpen during Friday's series opener, manager Ned Yost said on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old Chen (1-2, 7.40 ERA) made a five-inning relief appearance on Saturday against the Angels and has yet to reach 100 percent since the extended outing. He surrendered four runs on five hits.
"He needs one more day," Yost said. "But I could use him in a pinch."
The Royals' bullpen could use the added depth, as the club needed to recall Casey Coleman on Wednesday after Michael Mariot was optioned to Triple-A Omaha on the heels of allowing five runs (two earned) in a one-out appearance on Tuesday.
Indians: Swisher turns in solid day
It's no secret that first baseman Nick Swisher has struggled this season, but Tuesday's 2-for-4 performance against the Dodgers -- his first multi-hit game since May 20 -- at least provided some encouragement.
Swisher has hit just .197 with a .285 on-base percentage through 66 games this season. Primarily the Tribe's designated hitter as of late, he was limited to an 0-for-1 pinch-hit appearance in Wednesday's Interleague clash with the Dodgers.
"I thought he swung the bat very well [on Tuesday]," manager Terry Francona said. "Swish has gone through a really tough time. I don't think he's ever really gone through this for this extended amount of time before, so it's not the easiest thing. I totally understand that. And I've tried to explain it to him a little bit, we're not running away from him."
• Indians outfielder Michael Bourn received a regular day off on Wednesday with Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu on the mound. Bourn is batting .208 against southpaws this season.
• With a single during Tuesday night's tilt with the Twins, 42-year-old Raul Ibanez became the second-oldest player to record a hit in Royals franchise history, second only to Bob Boone, who singled off of the Angels' Jim Abbott on September 27, 1990 for the 1,838th and final hit of his career at 42 years, 312 days. Ibanez became the oldest Royals player to ever homer in a game with his blast in Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Twins.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.