Volquez Contains Tribe as Merrifield Hits Memorable Firsts; Royals 2, Indians 1
Bob Toth | On 14, Jun 2016
Fans of offense were disappointed at Kauffman Stadium on Monday as Carlos Carrasco and Edinson Volquez engaged in a pitchers’ duel, as a gift first inning Royals run and solo shots from each side would be the extent of the scoring as Kansas City knocked off the visiting Cleveland Indians, 2-1.
Carrasco pitched with plenty of distractions on base, but the Royals would go 1-for-6 on the night with runners in scoring position. Volquez did similar to the Indians, keeping them hitless in eight at bats in the same situation, which would prove to be a key factor in the low scoring game.
The Indians’ best chance to score was in the first, when they wasted a bases loaded opportunity with two outs. Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis each drew walks to start the inning. With two outs, Jose Ramirez made it three walks in the inning by Volquez, but Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out weakly to second to end the inning.
Kansas City got a free run in the bottom of the inning as leadoff man Whit Merrifield was gifted his first career triple on a bad route in right from Chisenhall as his regrettable first inning continued. The ball sailed over his head as he charged in towards the foul line and rolled all the way to the wall. Merrifield scored two pitches later on a single from Alcides Escobar and the Royals had a 1-0 lead.
The Indians would send no more than four men to the plate for the rest of the game, with the exception of the fourth, when Chisenhall walked with one out and Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch, but Tyler Naquin and Rajai Davis each grounded into force outs at second base to end any semblance of a rally.
In the bottom of the fourth, Merrifield struck through again with his first Major League home run, a solo shot to left with two down to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. That score would remain until Volquez left the game in the eighth for setup man Kelvin Herrera. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up a solo shot to right to Kipnis, the first batter he faced, to cut the deficit in half. After Francisco Lindor walked, Mike Napoli struck out swinging before Ramirez grounded into a double play.
Wade Davis closed things out in the ninth, giving up a leadoff single to Chisenhall before inducing a double play from Gomes and a grounder to second by Naquin one pitch later. It was his 18th save of the season, matching Herrera’s 18th hold despite the run allowed.
Cleveland (35-28) is now 4-4 on their ten-game road trip with two more to play in Kansas City this week. Their offense sputtered as they drew more walks (5) than had hits (4) on the evening. Their lead in the division has now shrunk to two, as Kansas City (33-30) moved into sole possession of second place as Detroit (32-31) lost in extra innings to Chicago (32-32) after blowing a sizeable early lead in the ball game.
VOLQUEZ RESOLVES INDIANS PROBLEM
Volquez (6-6, 3.90) finally figured out the Indians after taking a pair of losses against them in starts on May 8 and June 3, where he allowed ten runs on 14 hits with eight walks in ten and two-thirds innings. Monday night was the polar opposite, with the exception of the walk department, where he again issued four more free passes. Unlike his previous efforts, he kept them off of the scoreboard and allowed just two hits while striking out three.
Cleveland has drawn 12 of the 33 walks issued by Volquez this year in 85 1/3 innings pitched.
QUALITY OUTING FOR CARRASCO
Carrasco (2-2, 3.40 ERA) was in and around the zone and had a lot of traffic on the base paths, but kept the Royals to just the two runs through the first four innings. He lasted six on the night, giving up ten hits and a walk while striking out eight, but the Indians offense could not strike through against his counterpart on the night.
“He bobbed and weaved,” said Indians manager Terry Francona about Carrasco after the game. “He had a lot of traffic early and, for the most part, he got out of it. As he got into the third and fourth innings, he started pitching more effectively. He hung a breaking ball for the home run, but he was much better. Giving up two runs in six innings, most nights we’ll take it.”
MERRIFIELD’S BIG DAY OUT
Merrifield has seen an increased amount of playing time in the Royals lineup, taking at bats away from the veteran Omar Infante.
“I wasn’t planning on coming here and going back,” the Royals rookie said after his big day at the plate. “You want to come here and play like you’re capable of playing.”
SOME GOOD WITH THE BAD
Chisenhall’s oops in right field to start the game did lead to a rapid run for the Royals, but he was one of just two Indians hitters to actually reach base safely with a hit. Chisenhall had a pair of singles and a walk on the night, while Kipnis was 2-for-3 with a walk, his eleventh double, and his eighth homer of the season.
ROYALS END DROUGHT VERSUS TRIBE
The win for the Royals brought an end to their five-game losing streak to the Indians this season. They improved to 2-6 on the year, including a 1-6 mark in Cleveland.
The Royals also improved their home winning streak to seven straight games.
Monday night’s game was the 18th straight game played by the Indians without a day off. They will play two more this week before Thursday’s off day.
As has been the case quite a few times over the last couple of years, Josh Tomlin (8-1, 3.48) will take the mound and look to play the stopper once again and secure the Indians at least a .500 road trip with a win. The Royals will counter with Chris Young (2-6, 6.37), who has not played since June 5 when he pitched home run derby to the Indians in a 7-0 loss at Progressive Field, giving up four home runs in that outing.
First pitch from Kauffman Stadium is scheduled for 8:15 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/Orlin Wagner