Bullpen Concerns Abound as Royals Plate Seven in Eighth; Royals 7, Indians 3
Bob Toth | On 19, Jul 2016
Baseball is a funny game sometimes. Even when you think you’ve seen it all, the sport has a way of reminding you that you know nothing, putting special emphasis on the notion that no game is over until the final out is recorded.
The Royals could not figure out Corey Kluber for seven innings, but after the Tribe’s starter exited with a leg cramp during warm up pitches in the bottom of the eighth, Kansas City scored seven runs off of the heavily questioned Indians bullpen and defeated Cleveland by a 7-3 final on Monday night.
The Indians (54-38) were on their way to a big and needed win over the third place Royals (47-45) at Kauffman Stadium before things quickly went sideways for the top club in the American League. In the blink of an eye, a 2-0 lead turned into a lopsided 7-2 deficit and Tribe fans were left in shock at what had unfolded in the waning hours of the day.
Kluber had been given his customary miniscule run support, but he had it early and made it stand. Royals starter Edinson Volquez struck out the first two batters of the game on six straight pitches before Francisco Lindor stepped in and sent the third pitch of his at bat out to right for his eleventh home run of the season. The 1-0 advantage remained the same for several innings, despite the Indians flirting with a scoring opportunity in the third, yet were unable to score after getting Tyler Naquin and Roberto Perez on to lead off the inning with a single and a walk, respectively.
Cleveland made it a 2-0 game the following inning after Jose Ramirez walked with one out. Lonnie Chisenhall sent him to third on a single and a groundout to third by Juan Uribe knocked in the run to give Kluber a little bit of breathing room.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for Kluber on a steamy night in Missouri. He walked a batter in the first and needed a double play to end the second after a one-out single by Cheslor Cuthbert. He dodged a bigger two-out threat in the third after Jarrod Dyson tripled with one out, Eric Hosmer walked, and Kendrys Morales was hit by a pitch on his left foot to load the bases, but Kluber retired Salvador Perez on a grounder to Uribe. Cuthbert was thrown out trying to stretch a double into three bases to cut short a scoring chance with one out in the fourth and back-to-back singles in the fifth went to waste when Morales was set down swinging by Kluber. He would retired six straight before a two-out walk by Dyson in the seventh, but he was gunned down by Perez trying to steal second in what would be the last batter faced by the Indians ace.
At 95 pitches, Kluber got the hook after he was unable to complete his warm up tosses with cramps in his right calf causing him issues pushing off of the mound. Bryan Shaw came on in relief for manager Terry Francona, but the Royals pounced quickly with a new arm to face.
Alcides Escobar reached on an infield single and moved to second on a single from Hosmer. Christian Colon stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter and, after failing to get a pair of bunt attempts down, laced a two-run double into center to tie the game. Shaw retired Perez on a pop up to short, but walked Alex Gordon on four straight pitches. Gordon picked off second base before Shaw walked Cuthbert, sending Francona back to the bullpen for Jeff Manship.
Manship was little better, giving up an RBI-single to left to Paulo Orlando to give the Royals a 3-2 lead. A walk by Whit Merrifield reloaded the bases and Dyson sent them all across home plate riding a grand slam over the wall in right. His first home run of the season made it a 7-2 game.
The Indians got one in the ninth and forced Royals manager Ned Yost to use a second reliever, but they could get no closer. Ramirez singled against former starter Chris Young and moved to third on a double by Chisenhall with one out. Uribe grounded out to second, scoring Ramirez. Naquin walked, sending Yost out for closer Wade Davis with the tying run in the on deck circle. Abraham Almonte pinch-hit for Perez, but popped up to the Royals’ Perez behind the plate to end it.
“I let the whole team down,” Manship said from the locker room. “I let Corey down, Brian down, giving up his runs. That stinks, for sure. I definitely feel sick to my stomach for how that went.”
LINDOR LOVES KC
Lindor was 1-for-4 on the night with his solo home run, continuing his solid play against the Royals this season.
In eleven games against Kansas City this year, he is hitting .439 (18-for-41) with three doubles, a triple, three home runs, and eight runs batted in.
Kluber took the tough no-decision after leaving with a two-run lead. He worked seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits and three walks along the way while striking out eight.
“I don’t think cramps are serious,” said Francona after the game, “but I don’t know how he’s going to push off the rubber.”
First pitch temperatures were at 90 degrees with a heat index just under 100 degrees when play started. It was a strong bounce back outing against the Royals for Kluber after he was tagged for eight runs (five earned) in his last start in Kansas City in the middle of June.
VOLQUEZ OFF THE HOOK
Volquez dodged a loss thanks to the late rally by the Royals. He had limited the Indians to just two runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts in seven innings of quality work. He threw 112 pitches, 75 for strikes.
SANTANA’S STREAK ENDS
Leadoff man Carlos Santana’s hitting streak came to an end at 14 games after he went 0-for-3 on the night with a walk and a strikeout. The streak was the longest of his seven-year career and left his batting average to .254 and his on-base percentage to .349 after play on Monday.
MORALES LEFT EARLY
Morales was lifted for pinch-hitter Colon in the eighth. The Royals DH, who had been hit in the left foot by Kluber early in the game, had also fouled a ball off of his right foot. X-rays were negative and the injury was described after the game as a bruise.
The Indians made several moves during the day Monday, starting when they placed catcher Yan Gomes on the 15-day disabled list with a separated right shoulder. The injury was sustained in the sixth inning of Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Twins. Perez was activated from the 60-day disabled list to take his spot on the roster.
Cleveland also called up left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett and optioned right-hander Cody Anderson back to Triple-A. Anderson spent just one day on the roster after being recalled on Sunday to replace Tommy Hunter, who was placed on the disabled list that day.
The Royals added right-handed pitcher Nick Tepesch off of waivers from Oakland and optioned him to Triple-A Omaha. They transferred injured pitcher Kris Medlen to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for Tepesch.
The Indians continue to look for their first win in Kansas City this season when they send Danny Salazar (10-3, 2.75 ERA) to the mound for Tuesday’s game. The Royals will send reliever Brian Flynn (1-0, 2.39) to the mound to make his first start since late in the 2014 season. The left-hander is expected to make anywhere between 60 and 75 pitches in the start.
Game time from Kauffman Stadium is scheduled for 8:15 PM ET.
Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images