Hustle and Pitching Outlasts Miscues for Extra-Inning Win; Indians 3, Royals 2
Mike B. | On 30, Aug 2014
Fingernails are no longer needed in this season. After Saturday evening, they’re all gone.
In a nail-biter affair, where runs were a premium but opportunity was abound it appeared the Kansas City Royals were going to steal a win in the bottom of the eighth when the Cleveland Indians played poor defense to allow an unearned run to force extra innings. But it was the hustle of Jose Ramirez—one of the error makers in the eighth—that created an 11th inning rally and gave the Indians a 3-2 win at Kauffman Stadium.
The late-inning back and forth erased quality starts from Trevor Bauer and James Shields in the decisions of the contest. Each battled in the low-scoring affair, Shields controlling the Indians bats, while Bauer skirted around trouble all evening. Kansas City stranded 15 men on base in the game and were just 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position.
The win, combined with Detroit’s doubleheader split in Chicago today, has tightened the race in the American League Central Division. Kansas City and Detroit now are tied atop the division lead and the Indians are now just 3.5 games back.
Bauer found himself in immediate trouble in the bottom of the first inning. He loaded the bases to start the game with singles to Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante and walking Alex Gordon. Bauer rebounded to strand the base runners when he struck out Billy Butler, Salvador Perez and Raul Ibanez. Ibanez may have had four strikes to hit in his at-bat. He checked his swing on what could have been called strike three, but third base umpire Bill Welke ruled he did not swing. Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway took umbrage from the dugout and was ejected.
After the first inning, Bauer settled down, but controlling his pitches was a battle all night. He allowed a two-out double to Alcides Escobar in the second inning and a leadoff walk to Infante, but shut down the Royals to not surrender a run. Bauer struck out six in the first three innings.
In the fourth inning the Indians took the lead, getting Bauer a run. With one out in the inning, Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes hit back-to-back doubles to score the Indians first run of the game. Gomes 22nd two-bagger of the year, scored Kipnis and the Indians led 1-0 after four frames.
It appeared Bauer may give the hard-earned run back to Kansas City in the bottom half of the innings when Ibanez and Lorenzo Cain walked to open the scoring opportunity. However, Mike Moustakas grounded into a double play, with Bauer hustling from the mound to cover first base, and the rally was squelched when Escobar flew out to center field.
In the sixth inning, Bauer worked into his final jam and had to have help to keep Kansas City scoreless. After retiring the first two hitters, Ibanez walked and Cain doubled to put a pair in scoring position. Kyle Crockett was called upon from the bullpen to get Moustakas to ground out and end the inning. Kipnis made a fine play, heading up the middle, then jump and fire to first to end the inning.
Bauer pitched five and two-third innings, allowing four hits and five walks, while striking out six. The young, right-hander left the game with fire still in his belly. Bauer slammed a water bottle to the ground in the dugout in frustration after getting the hook. He felt he should have got a strike call on Ibanez that would have ended the inning. However, he bent but did not break all night, and set down seven in a row before walking Ibanez in the sixth.
Shields, meanwhile, held the Indians in check all night—except for the lone tally in the fourth. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing one run on five hits and a walk, while striking out four. The Royals offense could not break through with the necessary hit and Big Game James was saddled with a tough-luck loss. Wade Davis set the Indians down in order in the eighth inning to keep the pressure on.
But in the bottom of the eighth, the Indians defense reared its ugly head. Scott Atchison started the frame after tossing a five-pitch seventh inning. He walked Gordon to start the inning, but got a one-bounce smash off the bat of Billy Butler back to him for what could have been a double play. However, Atchison was charged with an error when his throw sailed into center field when Ramirez and Kipnis were crossed up covering second base. Jarrod Dyson pinch-ran for Butler and quickly stole second base. Atchison struck out Perez before exiting for Nick Hagadone. Hagadone walked pinch-hitter Eric Kratz on four pitches and was sent to the locker room for C.C. Lee.
With the bases loaded and one out, Lee got Cain to ground to shortstop. With Ramirez charging in, he had an easy play at the plate to cut down the lead runner. Instead, he fired to Kipnis at second, but the Tribe could not complete the double play and Kansas City tied the game at one. Lee got Moustakas to ground out to first, but the damage was done with unearned run evening the score. Cleveland was forced to use four relievers to record three outs in the eighth inning.
Cody Allen pitched the ninth inning, allowing a walk and a single before striking out Dyson to keep the game deadlocked and send it to extra innings. The heartburn continued for the Tribe in the 10th when Josh Tomlin came on to pitch and allowed a leadoff double to Perez. After Kratz struck out swinging, Cain reached on an infield hit—forcing Tomlin to walk Moustakas intentionally to load the bases. With just one out, Tomlin got Escobar to ground into a fielder’s choice when Lonnie Chisenhall cut the run down at the plate and then struck out Jayson Nix to end the inning.
After stopping one Royal scoring opportunity after another, the Indians finally cashed in and re-took the lead in the top of the 11th. Jose Ramirez started the inning with a triple into the right center field gap off left-hander Scott Downs (0-4). Ramirez probably should have settled for a safe double, but his hustle just beat the relay throw and forced Kansas City to pull the infield in with no outs. Brantley used the drawn in infield to hit a chopper over the second baseman Infante and into the outfield to score Ramirez and give the Indians a 2-1 lead. Jason Frasor came on in relief of Downs, who did not retire a hitter, allowed Brantley to steal second base and advance to third base on Perez’s throwing error. With the infield in again, Santana singled through the infield and tally an insurance run, giving the Indians a 3-1 lead.
Tomlin (6-8) stayed on for the 11th and finished the game. After retiring the first two hitters, Dyson singled to center field to give Kansas City life. It couldn’t be that easy for the Tribe as Perez again doubled down the left field line to score Dyson and make it a 3-2 lead, with the tying run in scoring position. After a battle, Kratz finally stuck out to end the game and Cleveland sealed the win.
Kansas City had numerous chances to score in the game, but could not get the necessary hit. Their 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position will haunt them, but is a credit to Bauer and the Tribe bullpen. Cleveland used eight pitchers in the game. Bryan Shaw was the only reliever who was not used and he was deemed unavailable after pitching six times in the last eight days. T.J. House had entered the bullpen if the game had continued. The eightsome held Kansas City to just nine hits in 11 innings.
Offensively for the Tribe, too, only managed nine hits in 11 innings, but spread them through the order. Only Zach Walters and Mike Aviles did not log a hit, yet Brantley and Chisenhall were the only Tribesmen to register more than one. Ramirez’s leadoff triple in the 11th may have been the biggest of the game.
Sunday, the Indians will look to complete the sweep of Kansas City. In their last two chances to sweep, the Indians have let Minnesota and Chicago off the hook. A weekend sweep seems necessary before opening a four-game series at home against Detroit on Monday. Cleveland will send House (2-3, 4.18) to the mound against southpaw Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.47).
Photo: Colin E. Braley/AP Photo