Royals Spoil Robinson’s Statue Ceremony with Another Win; Royals 5, Indians 2
Bob Toth | On 27, May 2017
The Indians could not get the big hit that has plagued the offense throughout much of the first two months of the season and the Royals bullpen slammed the door on Cleveland for starter Jason Vargas as Kansas City won its second straight game of the series with a 5-2 win on Saturday afternoon.
On a day dedicated to former big league great Frank Robinson, whose number 20 was retired as part of the unveiling of a statue in his honor at Progressive Field, Cleveland could not slow down a Kansas City offense that has decided to wake up some this weekend just in time to take on their division rival. Danny Salazar struggled with command and limiting the traffic and racked up some lopsided stats, and that was after he dodged a significant first inning threat.
Alcides Escobar started the game by reaching safely on an error by Jason Kipnis. Mike Moustakas singled and Lorenzo Cain walked to load the bases. Things got a bit chippy as the cleanup man Eric Hosmer came to the plate. After fouling off several pitches, he attempted to hold up on a checked swing. The third base umpire ruled that he went too far for a third strike, leading to a tirade at the plate from Hosmer and a quick ejection from plate ump Bill Welke. Ned Yost joined in on the argument and he too got an early end to his afternoon, just four batters into the contest. After the commotion, Salvador Perez lifted a fly to right to score Escobar and Moustakas would move up on a wild pitch from Salazar, but Jorge Bonifacio struck out swinging to end the lengthy top of the first.
Cleveland tied it in the home half as Francisco Lindor homered to the Home Run Porch in left off of Vargas to tie the game at one.
Salazar pitched around base runners in the second and third before he was given a lead to work with in the bottom of the third frame. Daniel Robertson reached on a bunt single, moved to second on a wild pitch by Vargas, and came in to score on a single to center by Kipnis to move the Indians in front, 2-1.
The Royals stranded a pair in the fourth and the Indians would load the bases on a pair of singles to start the inning by Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Ramirez and a two-out walk by Robertson, but Kipnis popped out to first as Vargas worked around another jam.
After leaving a two-out base runner in the fifth, the Royals would reclaim the lead for good in the sixth against Salazar and the Indians bullpen. Bonifacio doubled with one out and Brandon Moss worked a walk. A walk by Whit Merrifield loaded the bases for Alex Gordon and manager Terry Francona went to Boone Logan. Gordon dropped a single into center to tie the game at 2-2. Francona was back to the mound for reliever Nick Goody, whose first pitch to Escobar was sent back into center for a two-run double to put the Royals up, 4-2. Moustakas was given an intentional walk to reload the bases and put on force plays, but Goody would not need one as he struck out Cain and Cheslor Cuthbert swinging to end the inning.
The Indians got two runners on in the sixth against Vargas around a double play ball, but Matt Strahm got a groundout by Kipnis to end that inning. Lindor walked off of Strahm in the seventh to start the inning, but reliever Peter Moylan got a double play off of the bat of Encarnacion.
Cleveland went down quickly in the eighth against setup man Joakim Soria before Moustakas padded the lead against Shawn Armstrong with a first pitch home run to start the ninth. Kelvin Herrera came on to close it out in the bottom of the ninth, striking out the first two men before a two-out double by Lindor. Two pitches later, Michael Brantley grounded out to end the ball game.
The Indians fell to 24-23 with the loss and are now 8-13 at Progressive Field this season. The Royals climbed to 21-27 on the season and 9-16 away from Kauffman Stadium.
Vargas earned his sixth win of the season with five and two-thirds innings of work. He allowed nine hits and gave up two walks, but only two runs came in to score on the afternoon as the Indians went just 2-for-8 at the plate and stranded nine runners. Salazar took the loss, his fifth, pitching five and one-third innings while allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with five walks and four strikeouts on 102 pitches. Herrera’s save was his eleventh in 13 chances this season.
Three different hitting streaks were extended in the contest by each club. Lindor had a double and a homer, extending his streak to 12 straight games for the second time this season. Brantley had a pair of singles to extend his streak to a season-high eleven games. KC’s Merrifield was 1-for-2 at the plate with a single to extend his streak to 12 straight as well.
The Indians will look to once again avoid the dreaded four-game losing streak that the club has not had since July of 2015 (when they lost six straight to Chicago and Kansas City) on Sunday in the 1:10 PM ET first pitch from Progressive Field.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin (2-6, 6.70 ERA) will look for his first win in May and to get back on track after allowing ten earned runs in his last eight and two-thirds innings pitched over his last two outings. He has faced the Royals once this season and took a no-decision despite making one of his best starts of the season. He allowed just a run on three hits in seven innings in a 3-1 Indians victory. Left-hander Danny Duffy (4-3, 2.92) will oppose for the Royals, looking to make a clean sweep in Cleveland. He has made four straight quality starts for KC and has won each of his last two starts, but he took a tough loss against the Indians earlier in the month when he allowed just one run on six hits over six and two-thirds innings.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images