Yordano Ventura was stellar the last time he took on the Indians, but the young right-hander has otherwise had little luck on the mound this month.
Ventura came up just shy of a July 4 shutout against the Tribe, leaving instead with one earned run on six hits over 8 1/3 strong innings. In his three ensuing outings, however, the 23-year-old has posted a 8.18 ERA while allowing 15 hits and eight walks -- and that includes a scoreless five-out relief appearance.
The most recent of those games saw Ventura (7-8, 3.59 ERA) unravel early before exiting with six runs charged over 4 1/3 innings -- a surprisingly poor performance in an otherwise strong season, and just the first time in his 22 career games that he did not record a strikeout.
"After the third inning, I don't know what happened, but I couldn't throw pitches for a strike," Ventura said.
As Ventura prepares for another matchup with Cleveland at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night, he'll look to put his recent command issues behind him -- and to improve upon his career 1.29 ERA (three starts) when facing the Indians.
Tribe right-hander Josh Tomlin has also dealt with location problems this season, though his stem from leaving pitches over the plate too often. The aggressiveness around the strike zone has naturally led to few walks -- he has only allowed 10 free passes in 81 1/3 innings -- but has also left him vulnerable to the long ball.
Tomlin has allowed 14 home runs through 14 games this season, including four over his last three starts.
"Because he commands, and he's around the plate so much, and he doesn't overwhelm you with velocity, there's probably going to be some home runs in there," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "You hope they're solos. I think he knows himself pretty well. He just says, 'When I go out to pitch, I want to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.'"
Indians: Asdrubal aiming for weekend return
Though Asdrubal Cabrera has been held out of the last two games while he continues to deal with lower back spasms, the Indians believe their shortstop could be back on the field at some point during this weekend's series with the Royals -- possibly on Saturday or Sunday.
Cabrera jogged some and hit off a tee before Thursday's game in Kansas City, and the team plans of having him up that workload again on Friday.
"He started doing some movements and he did a lot of stuff in the training room," Francona said of Cabrera's progress. "[Friday] will be a little bit more aggressive, and then hopefully -- depending on how he reacts to that -- he'll just continue to ramp up."
Francona again added that he doesn't foresee Cabrera having to go on the disabled list. The 28-year-old has hit .247 with nine homers and seven steals in what is the final year of his current contract.
Royals: Hosmer's absence shuffles roles
After missing a pair of games earlier in the week with a bruised hand, first baseman Eric Hosmer sat out Kansas City's opener with the Indians after exiting in the eighth inning of Wednesday's game.
With regular designated hitter Billy Butler moving to first in Hosmer's absence, manager Ned Yost opted to use Nori Aoki as his DH on Thursday instead of Raul Ibanez, who was 0-for-7 against Indians starter Corey Kluber, with three strikeouts.
Aoki fell to 0-for-7 against Kluber with Thursday's 0-for-3 performance. Ibanez, hitting just .155 on the season, is 1-for-7 lifetime against Tomlin.
• The Royals have an American League-best 84 stolen bases on the season. Alcides Escobar (22) and Jarrod Dyson (19) account for almost half of those swipes.
• The Indians lead the Majors with 167 runs scored after the sixth inning this season. The club has also scored 22 of its 34 runs during those innings on the current 11-game road trip.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.