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Brad Hand has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season, but Tuesday night was not his night. The Indians’ potential All-Star closer blew his first save in 23 chances, allowing five runs on five straight hits to start the ninth inning, capped by a Hunter Dozier grand slam, as the Kansas City Royals stunned Cleveland, 8-6.
Hand entered with a 1.05 ERA on the year in 35 games with just four runs allowed, but that ERA more than doubled to 2.36 in his worst outing of the season. Called upon for the fifth time in the last six days, Hand entered to protect a three-run lead in a 6-3 contest, but his first pitch to Martin Maldonado was sent to left for a leadoff double. Whit Merrifield followed with a single to center after fouling off several pitches. Nicky Lopez reached on an infield single to first that scored Maldonado to make it 6-4. Alex Gordon loaded the bases with a single to center and on the next pitch, Dozier unloaded them with a 406-foot blast to the bleachers to stun the hometown crowd.
In one of the more unfortunate and unusual losses of the season, the Indians fell to the San Francisco Giants, 1-0, as the lone run of the game is balked in by Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
Jason Kipnis capped a three-hit day at the plate with the deciding blow in the bottom of the tenth to send a tired Cleveland crowd to a 3-2 walk-off fireworks display against the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.
After losing a one-run lead in the top of the eighth, the Indians needed bonus baseball to find a fourth straight win in a game already delayed more than two hours by rains in the middle innings. They pulled out the victory in another dramatic Progressive Field moment, walking off for the fifth time this year on Kipnis’ sixth long ball of the season.
The status of Mike Clevinger’s left ankle sprain must be good, as the Indians optioned starter Aaron Civale back to Triple-A Columbus on Monday morning. In a corresponding roster move, reliever Jon Edwards was recalled from the International League club.
Clevinger injured his left ankle in his first start off of the injured list last Monday in Texas against the Rangers. He remained in the game and lasted four and two-thirds innings, giving up five earned runs on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. He was placed on the IL on June 21, but the move was made retroactive to June 18. If all continues to go well, he could be activated later in the week to start for Cleveland against the Baltimore Orioles in what would be his fourth start of the season.
Zach Plesac was good again for the Tribe and his offense provided him with a five-run second inning as the Indians cruised to a Sunday sweep of the Detroit Tigers in an 8-3 victory from downtown Cleveland.
Plesac continued an impressive start to his Major League career by handling the Tigers with ease after a slightly shaky opening to the day. He outdueled Daniel Norris, who faced all nine Indians hitters in the second in what proved to be the difference in the ball game.
Aaron Civale’s Major League debut could not have gone much better for Cleveland on Saturday afternoon as the 24-year-old allowed just two hits and three walks over six shutout innings and four relievers handled the rest of the work in a 2-0 shutout for the Indians over the Detroit Tigers.
The Indians lineup backed their rookie starter with a couple of early runs of support, but struggled to get much else going against Spencer Turnbull, who pitched well overall in a five-and-fly despite being around the strike zone quite a bit. He kept the Tigers in the game and his bullpen fired three perfect innings of relief after he left, but Civale and the Tribe relief corps were able to protect the two-run lead to take home a second straight victory over Detroit.
The Indians resolved some of the lack of playing time in the outfield on Saturday as the team designated Leonys Martin for assignment.
The initial basis for the roster move for the Indians was to create room on both the 25- and 40-man rosters for another starting pitcher with Mike Clevinger missing his turn in the rotation with a sprained left ankle. Aaron Civale, a 24-year right-hander pitching for Triple-A Columbus, was tabbed for the start but needed to be added to the roster. The Indians had to make the tough decision to remove yet another player from the mix in the clubhouse and this time it was the veteran Martin.