KC Bats Around In 5th To Drop Tribe; Royals 4, Indians 2
By Sean Tuttle
This afternoon’s contest at Progressive Field showed all the signs of a gloomy day in Cleveland. Even the weather didn’t look promising with overcast clouds.
Josh Tomlin took the mound for the Tribe, and immediately gave up a double to Yuniesky Betancourt, a walk to Alex Gordon, and a single to Billy Butler to load the bases with no outs. Tomlin got Eric Hosmer to ground into a double play to second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the damage was done as Betancourt scored to draw first blood.
Right Hander Luis Mendoza seemed to be prepared for today’s challenge, retiring the first six Indians in order.
Tomlin appeared to settle in after a shaky beginning only allowing a walk in the second, and surrendering a double and hitting a batter in the third. The defense of the Tribe would not break to keep the score 1-0.
In the bottom of the third, Cleveland had their opportunity to strike back when Jose Lopez led off the inning with a single to left field. Lopez advanced to third after a ground out by Kipnis and a wild pitch by Mendoza with Aaron Cunningham batting. Cunningham brought Lopez home to tie up the game with a single to left field, but that was all the Tribe would get in the third.
The Royals ignited the fireworks show in the top of the fifth with back-to-back one out singles, and back-to-back-to-back RBI two out singles by Jeff Francoeur, Mike Moustakas, and Brayan Pena to bring the score to 4-1 and end Josh Tomlin’s day.
Manager Manny Acta commented on his starter’s performance today saying, “Josh had to battle with what he had today. He didn’t have his usual control. Only fifty percent of first pitch strikes, which he is good at that, he got himself in a lot of deep counts. When you see a guy like him with close to 90 pitches in the fifth inning you know he is scuffing a bit.”
The Indians got their best chance of the day in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded and no outs. Travis Hafner gave fans a long look at a potential game changer, but the wind had other plans and knocked down the long ball just short of the left field wall. The long sac-fly scored Michael Brantley, who reached on a bunt single to open the inning. Cabrera stole third base, but Shelly Duncan struck out looking, and Jack Hannahan grounded out to short to end the rally at 4-2.
The Tribe’s bullpen would shut down Kansas City’s bats, only allowing three base runners after Tomlin’s exit. Wheeler, who allowed the final RBI single in the 5th, also gave up a walk in the same inning. Tony Sipp came in and retired four out of the five batters he faced, and Joe Smith finished the game retiring all five batters he saw.
Acta praised the bullpen after the game, “Our bullpen held them down pretty good and gave us a chance to come back in the game and try and win the ball game, we just couldn’t push them across.”
The Indians could not capitalize in the seventh with Kipnis at second with one out, two runners on in the eighth with two outs, and two runners on in the ninth with two outs.
Acta referenced his team’s inability to produce at clutch times saying, “The last four games we have struggled to score some runs. Today we continued to scuffle at the plate a little bit. We hit some balls hard, but they played good defense, Hosmer made some good plays at first base whenever we had our chances.”
Louis Mendoza earned his first win of the year. He went five innings, allowed four hits, gave up two runs both of which were earned, allowed two walks, and struck out three batters.
Josh Tomlin took the loss, exiting after four and two-thirds innings, allowing eight hits, four runs on four earned, two walks, and only struck out one batter.
Kipnis, went 2-3 today with two singles and one walk. He has a .246 batting average on the season.
The Indians begin a three game home series against the L.A. Angels tomorrow at 7:05 pm ET.