Losing Skid Hits Six as Indians Swept in Extras; Royals 7, Indians 6
By Bob Toth
The Cleveland Indians made up a six-run first inning deficit but fell short in extra innings, swept out of Kansas City by the Royals to a final score of 7-6 in eleven innings.
In his second inning of relief, Esmil Rogers (1-1) gave up a leadoff single to Eric Hosmer. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Getz and advanced to third on a wild pitch byRogers. AfterRogersretired Jarrod Dyson on a shallow flyout to center, he intentionally walked Alex Gordon before Indians’ closer Chris Perez came on in relief against Alcides Escobar. After getting ahead in the count 0-2, Perez gave up the game-winning, two-out RBI-single to left, scoring Hosmer and giving the Royals the walk-off victory.
“At the end, their bullpen kept us down,” Indians’ manager Manny Acta said, “and they beat our best guy to sweep us.”
The Royals wasted no time in the first against Indians’ starter Corey Kluber. Making his fourth Major League appearance and first big league start, the first pitch he threw was driven out of the yard to right by Gordon to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead.
The next batter up, Escobar blooped a single to right field over second baseman Brent Lillibridge, stole second, and scored on an RBI single to center by Lorenzo Cain to make the score 2-0. With Cain running on a 3-2 pitch, Billy Butler grounded out to shortstop, staying out of the double play, but getting the Indians their first out of the inning. A strikeout to Mike Moustakas on four pitches put a second out on the scoreboard, but the Royals’ offense would strike some more.
After Brayan Pena drew an eight-pitch walk, Hosmer crushed the second pitch of his at bat to dead center for a home run, the second of the inning, putting the Royals up by a commanding 5-0 lead. A triple to the right field corner by Getz and a single to right by Dyson would plate the Royals’ sixth run of the inning. Gordon, the tenth man to bat, struck out to end the scoring onslaught.
The Indians have now been outscored in the first inning 85-49 on the season. Their 49 runs scored entered tonight’s game as the third lowest total in the American League.
Michael Brantley scored the Indians’ first run leading off the second against Royals’ starter, Bruce Chen. After fouling off several pitches, Brantley doubled to deep right, his 30th on the season. He moved to third on a flyout to center field by Jose Lopez and scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by newly called up Vinny Rottino.
Following a quick three-up, three-down inning from Kluber in the bottom of the second, the Indians’ bats got back to work. Three consecutive one-out singles by the top of the Indians’ lineup against Chen loaded the bases for Carlos Santana. Despite a team batting average of .187 with the bases loaded, Santana blooped a single between first and second, scoring both Shin-Soo Choo and Lillibridge to make it a 6-3 game. A sacrifice fly to center by Brantley would push across Asdrubal Cabrera and reduce the deficit to 6-4.
A walk to Jose Lopez would end the night for the left-hander Chen, who lasted just two and two-thirds innings, despite being spotted a 6-0 lead. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits, walked a batter, and did not strike out any. Over the last three years, Chen had entered with a 6-3 record against the Indians while maintaining a 3.74 ERA over 45 2/3 innings, with 30 strikeouts in nine games (seven starts) in that span.
The Royals missed an opportunity in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a heads up defensive play by the Indians. After consecutive singles by Dyson and Gordon, Escobar stepped to the plate with runners on first and second. The Royals attempted a double steal, but instead of trying to throw out the speedy Dyson, catcher Lou Marson threw to the backend of the theft attempt, where Gordon did not have as good of a jump. Gordon stopped in his tracks and a run down ensued, but the Indians alertly threw back home to Marson, who got Dyson in a run down between third and home, where he was tagged out by the Indians’ catcher. Escobar then flied out to left with Gordon still on second to end the inning.
Capitalizing on the defensive play of the previous half inning, the Indians tied the game in the fifth off of Royals’ reliever Everett Teaford. Lillibridge singled between short and third for his second consecutive base hit. He stole second, but was unable to move to third on a shallow flyout to right by Cabrera. After falling behind in the count to Teaford, Santana sent a liner screaming over the wall in left field for a two-run homer to tie the game at six. Santana, running hard out of the box, pulled up at second base thinking he had hit a ground rule double, before he was waved home by the umpires.
Santana is now batting .302 since the All-Star break. He has six home runs, 16 runs batted in, 16 walks, and just eleven strikeouts in that time. He finished tonight’s game with two hits in five at bats, with a single, home run, and four runs batted in.
“The guys came right back,” Acta said. “Even when we were in a big hole, they did a lot of good things. I’m happy with the ways things went today compared to the prior games.”
Kluber survived a disastrous first inning and locked in against the Royals. After giving up six earned runs on six hits, with a walk and a pair of strikeouts in the first, he allowed no runs on just three hits over the next three and one-third innings pitched. He gave his offense a chance to come back, after nearly putting the game out of reach with his 43 first inning pitches.
“For some reason, it looked like he was trying to establish his fastball and the cutter he has,” Acta said. “I think he learned from that. He just started throwing his slider. It’s a very good pitch for him. Everything he was throwing in the first inning was fastballs – 94, 95. After that he pitched pretty well.”
“He could compete up here with what I saw today.”
He handed the ball off to the “Bullpen Mafia”, who did not disappoint. Tony Sipp relieved him in the fifth and retired all five batters he faced, striking out a pair. Joe Smith pitched the seventh, giving up a hit and striking out Gordon. Vinnie Pestano pitched two scoreless innings of relief, walking a batter but ending his night on a double play groundout by Gordon to force extra innings.
The Royals’ bullpen was just as effective after Chen and Teaford. Kelvin Herrera worked two innings, giving up a hit and striking out three while regularly touching 100 miles per hour on the radar gun. Tim Collins pitched a perfect ninth with a strikeout. Closer Greg Holland worked the tenth with the exact same results as Collins. Aaron Crowe (2-1) was the pitcher of record, striking out Rottino with the final out of the top half of the eleventh.
Cleveland (50-55) has now lost six straight games and two consecutive series to the teams chasing them in the AL Central Division. With the win, Kansas City (44-60) sweeps the Indians and will prepare for the Texas Rangers.
The Indians will begin a three-game series Friday in Detroit against the Tigers. Justin Masterson (7-9, 4.47) looks to rebound from a loss on Saturday in Minnesota, where he allowed eight earned runs (ten total) in five and two-thirds innings. Newly acquired Anibal Sanchez (0-1, 7.50) will make his second start forDetroit. He lost his first appearance after giving up three home runs in a loss toToronto. Prior to his trade to the Tigers, he was 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA for the Miami Marlins.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET and will be broadcast on SportsTimeOhio and the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images