Bats Come Through Big as Kluber and Tribe Rout Royals; Indians 11, Royals 2
Bob Toth | On 13, May 2018
For the second time this season, Corey Kluber was given double-digit run support and big days throughout the lineup paced the Cleveland Indians to an easy 11-2 win on Mother’s Day over the Kansas City Royals.
Kluber has not always gotten the best run support on the mound, but of late, his teammates have swung the bat well in his defense. In five of his last six starts, the team has scored six runs or more in his starts. Not surprisingly, he has gone 5-1 in those outings while giving up a combined total of 13 earned runs. The Tribe’s ace, on the way to his league leading sixth win on Sunday, got the support early and was able to contain the Royals to just two unearned runs in the later innings.
Cleveland jumped out to a big lead, following the trend of scoring in bunches to do some major damage against Kansas City southpaw Danny Duffy, who has had both a rough go this season and a tough time with the Indians over the last few years. He was able to avoid trouble with runners on the corners in the first inning after a two-out double from Jose Ramirez, who scooted to third on a passed ball by Drew Butera, and a walk by Edwin Encarnacion, but the pair were stranded on a comebacker to the mound off of the bat of Brandon Guyer.
The Indians would not waste opportunities their next time up as they would send nine men to the plate. Yan Gomes started a major day at the plate with a double to center. He moved to third on a single by Erik Gonzalez and scored on a fielder’s choice force at second by Greg Allen. Rajai Davis walked and Francisco Lindor was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Michael Brantley, who grounded into a force at second to push across the second run of the inning while taking over the team lead in RBI with 25. That lead would last just four pitches, as Ramirez drove a 2-1 fastball to the bleachers for a three-run shot, moving him two RBI ahead of Brantley as the Indians took a 5-0 lead. Encarnacion walked before Guyer struck out looking to end the inning.
Kluber had an effective and quality start on the mound, but it was unusual as the Royals steadily had runners on base against him. He gave up a two-out single to third to Mike Moustakas to cap a nine-pitch battle in the first after two strikeouts to start the game. Lucas Duda singled to start the second before the next three were set down in order, including a strikeout of Alex Gordon. After being staked to a five-run lead, he gave up a one-out single to Jon Jay in the third, but retired the other three batters on eight pitches with a strikeout.
The Tribe extended the lead in the third. Gomes started his second straight inning with a hit, singling to left. Gonzalez walked before Duffy retired Allen and Davis. Lindor stepped in with a chance to drive in Gomes from third and did so with a single to left to make it a 6-0 Indians advantage.
Salvador Perez started the fourth inning with a single, making it four straight innings with a single for the Royals, but after a fly out by Duda, Kluber got Whit Merrifield to ground into a double play.
The Indians bats did not quiet down for the fourth, when they added another big inning to the day’s tally. Ramirez walked and stole second after a fly out by Encarnacion. Guyer moved him to third with a single. Gomes stepped in for his third at bat in four innings and found a 1-0 slider to his liking, driving it the opposite way to right and gone for a three-run shot, putting Cleveland up 9-0 and ending Duffy’s afternoon.
The Royals once again singled in the fifth, as Butera’s hit to center put a runner on first with two outs, but Jay flied to center. The Indians threatened against reliever Brian Flynn in his second inning of work as Lindor doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a groundout by Brantley. Ramirez walked, but with runners on the corners, Encarnacion grounded into the inning ending double play.
Kansas City got on the board in the sixth with a pair of unearned runs. Jorge Soler reached on a fielding error by Ramirez and moved to second on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert grounded to short before Perez doubled in Soler to make it 9-1. Duda flied to center for the second out but Merrifield came through with a two-out single, scoring Perez from second to make it 9-2. Gordon followed with a single to right but pinch-hitter Ryan Goins grounded to first to strand a pair in the last significant rally for the Royals.
The Indians left a pair in the bottom of the sixth against Flynn and Kluber set the side down in order for the first time on the day in the top of the seventh. Flynn would not be as lucky, starting his fourth inning of work, as he gave up a single to Lindor and a two-run home run to Brantley, who tied Ramirez again for the RBI lead while giving Cleveland an 11-2 lead.
Oliver Drake made his Indians debut in the eighth, getting a strikeout in a 1-2-3 inning. He gave up a one-out single to Gordon in the ninth before turning the game over to Andrew Miller, who walked one but struck out a pair to wrap up the series win for the Indians. Cleveland (20-19) moved back over the .500 mark with the victory, while Kansas City (13-27) lost yet another series. The Royals have won just one series and tied one other, with both coming against the Detroit Tigers.
KLUBER GETS SOME MORE REST
For the third straight start, Kluber was held under 100 pitches, as there was little need for him in the second blow out game in his last three outings. He worked seven innings, giving up eight hits but no walks while striking out four. He was charged with two runs, but neither of those sixth inning tallies were earned due to the error by Ramirez to start the inning.
Kluber is now the American League leader in wins, with six in nine starts. He dropped his ERA to 2.34 with the victory.
DUFFY DONE IN AGAIN BY TRIBE
The 29-year-old Duffy would likely much rather face anyone but the Indians at this point in his career. Sunday was his tenth outing against them over the last four years and he remains winless in those games, posting an 0-7 record against them in that span.
He allowed three runs in five and two-thirds innings in an April start against Cleveland, but he was shelled for nine on Sunday in just three and one-third innings. He allowed eight hits, walked five, and hit a batter while striking out two in his fifth loss of the year.
FEED THE YANIMAL
The Indians had contributions all throughout the lineup against Duffy and the Royals bullpen on Sunday, but few stood out as big as Gomes’ day did. Hitting in the six spot, he went 4-for-5 with two singles, a double, and a homer. He drove in three and scored three times himself, retired only in his final at bat of the game. The double was the 100th of his career.
Brantley was 1-for-5 to drop his season average to .336, but he is tied for the team lead with Ramirez with 27 RBI. The Tribe’s third baseman had two extra base hits (his 11th double and 12th homer), walked twice, scored twice, and drove in three.
Allen ended his season opening 0-for-14 with a pair of singles in his final three at bats of five on the afternoon.
Lindor extended his hitting streak to 14 games, a new career-high, with his three-hit day at the plate. He had two singles and his 14th double of the year and drove in his 25th RBI of the season. He reached base safely four times on the day, as he was also hit in the right foot by a pitch.
Lindor may very well be a strong candidate to win a second AL Player of the Week honor for his efforts at the dish again this week. He was 8-for-11 with three doubles, two homers, three RBI, two walks, a hit by pitch, and eight runs scored against the Royals. Combined with his 4-for-9 against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday and Wednesday, he was 12-for-20 (.600) for the week with four doubles, four homers, five RBI, and eight runs scored in five games. He will, however, have to contend with strong numbers from both Aaron Judge and Manny Machado to take home a second straight honor.
NO HOME COOKING
With the Indians’ brief three-game homestand concluded, the team will make the short hop up to Detroit to take on the Tigers in three straight this week before an off day Thursday. The Royals head home to Kauffman Stadium, where they will host the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in three-game sets this week.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images