To Error is Human, To Homer is to Compensate; Indians 4, Royals 3
Mike B. | On 21, Apr 2014
It’s a funny game, this game of baseball.
If Monday evening’s game was judged to determine the winner, it’s unlikely the Indians would have been declared the winner. However, Zach McAllister worked through trouble all night and the Indians offense had 11 hits to compensate for three errors in the game. The Indians punished former Tribe pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, with two, two-run home runs.
While the Indians made follies around the field, keeping the Royals in the game, Kansas City made outstanding defensive play after another. Several defensive gems by the best fielding team in the American League kept them in the game all night. Meanwhile, Cleveland upped their team total of errors to 19, second to just Oakland in all of Major League baseball.
McAllister has been the Tribe’s best starting pitcher during the early part of the season and he proved it again early in the first inning. After allowing a triple to Omar Infante with one out, McAllister got Eric Hosmer to line out and Billy Butler to ground out and strand a would-be-run in scoring position.
In each of the first four innings a Royals batter found a way to reach base but McAllister worked out of each potential jam. McAllister worked around a leadoff infield hit in the second inning, a Lonnie Chisenhall throwing error in the third inning and a two-out double by Alex Gordon in the fourth inning. Each time McAllister worked out of the Royals’ threat.
Cleveland had just a pair of infield hits until Nick Swisher doubled in the bottom of the third inning. David Murphy—who had reached on one of those infield hits—tried to score from first base but was thrown out on the relay throw and the game remained scoreless.
But the Indians were able to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jason Kipnis started the inning with a double to right field. After Chisenhall flew out weakly to left field, Michael Brantley hit his fourth home run of the season to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead. Brantley’s homer was his second in two days. Three of his four home runs this season have either tied the game or given Cleveland the lead.
“We put some good swings on the ball and we were able to score some runs,” Brantley said. “It was a good win tonight.”
The Tribe was not able to hold the lead long as the Royals answered with three runs in the top of the fifth with the help of more, poor Indians’ defense. Mike Moustakas started the inning with a double to center field. Alcides Escobar hit a sinking liner to center field that Michael Bourn just missed making a diving catch on. The ball squirted out of his glove allowing Moustakas to score and Escobar a double, himself.
Jarrod Dyson tried to bunt Escobar to third base, but McAllister’s throw to first base was high and it got past Swisher and went out of play. That allowed Escobar to score and the Royals to tie the game at two. McAllister was charged with the error, but it appeared Swisher could have caught the ball as his foot remained on the bag and he did not need to jump for the throw. Infante made the Indians pay with a single to left field, scoring Dyson from second base and Kansas City led 3-2 in the middle of the fifth inning.
McAllister worked around another error in the bottom of the sixth inning when Salvador Perez grounded to Chisenhall at third base. The grounder should have ended the inning, but again the throw was wide and Swisher did not come off the bag to make the play.
Cleveland re-took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with more offense to erase their poor defense. Swisher started the inning with his second double of the night off the left field wall and trotted home on Kipnis’ two-run homer to right field. Kipnis’ third homer of the season put the Indians back on top, 4-3.
“It’s very clutch,” Brantley said of the Indians ability to hit home runs in the clutch. “Kipnis’ home run was huge and we were able to keep the lead. It’s the nice start to a long series.”
It looked as if the Indians would tack on more runs on Guthrie in the sixth, but the Royals’ defense kept them in the game. Chisenhall singled to left field before Brantley flew out deep to center field, but Dyson was able to run it down. Norichika Aoki made a diving play on Asdrubal Cabrera’s liner to right field that would have been a double and Escobar ran about 100-feet to catch Jason Giambi’s pop up in foul ground behind third base to end the inning. Escobar had been positioned behind second base as part of a defensive shift.
McAllister (3-0) walked Escobar to start the seventh inning and Indians manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen to summoned left-hander Marc Rzepczynski. Rzepczynski finished the inning, closing the book on McAllister. The big, right-hander pitched six innings, allowing three runs—two earned—on six hits and a walk, while striking out three.
Cleveland finally chased Guthrie from the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when Yan Gomes doubled with one out. Bourn followed with a single to right field to put runners on the corners and Kelvin Herrera was brought on to retire Swisher and Kipnis, keeping the game just a one run differences. Guthrie pitched six and one-third innings for the Royals, allowing four runs on ten hits and striking out three. Guthrie (2-1) was punished by a pair of home run balls in the contest while suffering his first loss of the season. He’s now allowed five home runs in just four starts this season.
Cody Allen worked a scoreless top of the eighth inning and Cleveland had a chance to add more runs to the scoreboard, but again Kansas City’s defense erased the threat. After Chisenhall doubled to center field to start the inning, Royals’ Alex Gordon made diving plays on Brantley and Giambi’s liners.
John Axford worked a three-up, three-down ninth inning and there was no drams in earning his seventh save of the season. A day ago, Axford loaded the bases before notching the final out. Tonight, Axford made the ninth inning routine.
Cleveland’s offense appeared to be coming alive tonight. Of the Tribe’s 11 hits, six were of the extra base variety. The Indians were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position after a disappointing 1-for-18 this weekend against Toronto and only Giambi did not have a hit in the lineup this evening.
Cleveland will try to keep their winning ways going when young Danny Salazar (0-2, 7.71) will take on Kansas City’s ace and veteran, James Shields (1-2, 2.00) Tuesday evening. The second game of the four game series is slated to begin at 7:05 p.m. from Progressive Field
Photo: Mark Duncan/AP Photo