Lowe Shines and Hannahan Doubles Tribe To Home Victory; Indians 4, Royals 3
By Mike Brandyberry
The Indians have started the season with clutch hitting to make their offense go. However, this evening the Tribe wasn’t so clutch, but Derek Lowe gave the team a good effort and Jack Hannahan had a timely double to pace the Indians past the struggling Royals, 4-3.
“It was a well pitched ballgame today. Our pitching staff pretty much picked up our offense today,” manager Manny Acta said. “We had a lot of opportunities that we didn’t cash in but the offense carried us most of the road trip.”
The Tribe struck immediately in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Jason Kipnis was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Kipnis’ hit by pitch was the latest in a long line of Indians hit by left hander Jonathan Sanchez.
Asdrubal Cabrera, fresh off the bereavement list, laced a double down the line to put runners on second and third. After Shin-Soo Choo struck out, Carlos Santana hit a low liner to left field that was good enough for a sacrifice fly to score Kipnis and give the Indians a 1-0 lead early.
The Tribe had a chance to tack on more in the second inning when Sanchez walked Hannahan, Casey Kotchman and Aaron Cunningham to start the inning. However, bases loaded and no one out was washed away when Kipnis popped out on the first pitch and Cabrera grounded into a double play on the first pitch as well.
The Royals got on the board in the fourth inning when Mike Moustakas singled with one out, advanced to second on a wild pitch by Lowe and scored on a Mitch Maier base hit to center field. Maier’s run batted in deadlocked the game at one after four innings.
Sanchez struggled with control throughout the game and the fifth inning finally led to his demise. Sanchez walked Cabrera, Santana and Travis Hafner to again, load the bases. This time, however, the Tribe would capitalize with a sacrifice fly by Shelley Duncan before Hannahan laced a double to the right centerfield wall scoring a pair and putting the Indians up, 4-1.
“We had two key at bats in the evening,” Acta said. “Shelley Duncan’s sacrifice fly to set up Jack Hannahan and then Hannahan’s double to break open the game.”
Hannahan’s double would end Sanchez’s evening after four and two-thirds innings, four hits, four runs—all earned—and seven walks. His lack of control and increased pitch count did the left-hander in this evening. He threw 115 pitches in his short stint.
Meanwhile, Lowe dominated the Royals for six innings. He scattered eight hits, allowing only the lone run and striking out five on 96 pitches. Lowe’s five strikeouts surpassed the three he had on the season entering the game. The aging veteran rebounded nicely from his last start in Seattle where he struggled with control.
“Derek Lowe did a very good job. He had plus sink today,” Acta said. “He used both sides of the plate with it and mixed in some change ups.”
Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh inning before Vinnie Pestano gave Tribe fans a scare. Pestano gave up a run-scoring double to Maier and left runners on second and third when he retired Alcides Escobar to end the inning. The Royals had cut the lead to 4-2, however.
“(Sipp’s) had about three of four outings where he has pitched well,” Acta said. “Early, when he struggled, he was not throwing first pitch strikes. We know how important he has been for us the last couple years and after three outings, we think he’s back.”
The Tribe would load the bases, but for the second time in the game, come away with nothing in the bottom of the eighth. Jason Donald struck out, Santana popped out and Hafner crushed a ball to centerfield that was run down by Maier. Donald pinch hit for Choo who left the game with left hamstring tightness.
Chris Perez earned his sixth save of the season, but it too was eventful. Chris Getz doubled to left centerfield to lead off the inning. Ground balls moved Getz over and in to score, but the Royals would get no closer.
Momentum continues to move in both directions for the Royals and Indians. The Indians win gives them their eighth victory in the last ten games and the loss gives the Royals their twelfth straight loss.
Ubaldo Jimenez (2-0, 4.00 ERA) will try to keep the Indians hot streak intact on Wednesday evening when he opposes the Royals’ Luis Mendoza (0-2, 6.92 ERA). Game time set for 7:05 at Progressive Field.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images