Royals Pummel Plutko and Bullpen with Four Bombs; Royals 5, Indians 1
Bob Toth | On 03, Sep 2018
The Indians’ offensive took the Labor Day holiday off, but the Royals did no such thing as four Kansas City homers off of Cleveland starter Adam Plutko and the Tribe bullpen led to a 5-1 shelling at Progressive Field on Monday afternoon.
Cleveland’s recent offensive woes continued as the club combined for just four hits. After eight shutout innings from the Kansas City staff, the Tribe scored a run in the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate with the bases loaded and one out, but no more would cross as the Royals sent the Indians to their third straight defeat to open the month of September.
The Royals used the long ball to knock in all five runs on the game. Plutko set down the first four batters in order, but number five hitter Jorge Bonifacio put the Royals on the board first with a solo homer to left to put the Indians down, 1-0.
Ryan O’Hearn made it a 2-0 game with a solo shot leading off the fourth, sending a 3-2 pitch over the wall in center in laser beam fashion to kick off a big game at the plate for the rookie slugger. After Hunter Dozier started off the sixth with a single to center, O’Hearn went yard again for the second straight trip to the plate, driving a 1-0 pitch to right to put Kansas City up by four.
Dozier made it 5-0 in the top of the eighth off of reliever Jon Edwards, sending a 1-0 pitch to left with one down to make it a 5-0 KC lead. O’Hearn followed with his third extra base hit of the contest, doubling to left, but he was stranded when Edwards struck out Bonifacio and got Brian Goodwin to line to center.
The Indians offense struggled all game long to get anything going against right-hander Jakob Junis, who had had little luck against the Cleveland offense this season until Monday afternoon. He retired the side in order in the first and second and set down the first two in the third before hitting Greg Allen with a pitch. Cleveland had its first threat after Francisco Lindor singled to center and Allen moved to third on an error by Goodwin, but with Michael Brantley at the plate, Lindor got into a run down on an attempted steal of second and Allen was thrown out at the plate trying to swipe home.
Junis retired the side in order again in the fourth and worked around a leadoff single by Yonder Alonso to start the fifth by getting Melky Cabrera to line out before strikeouts of Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes. He worked quick sixth and seventh innings, ending his night with nine straight retired. Brian Flynn pitched a scoreless eighth on nine pitches.
Down 5-0 in the ninth, the Indians went down to their final outs in the game. Wily Peralta retired Allen on a grounder to second to start the inning, but Lindor jumped on a first pitch fastball and turned it into a souvenir to end the shutout threat with his 30th homer of the season. Brantley singled before back-to-back walks by Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion loaded the bases. Left-hander Tim Hill entered and manager Terry Francona went to pinch-hitter Yandy Diaz for Alonso, but he sent a bullet towards Whit Merrifield. The second baseman snagged the shot, fired to Adalberto Mondesi at second for the force, and the young shortstop completed the turn with a strike to first to get Diaz by a step to end the ball game.
The Royals won their sixth straight game and improved to 46-91 on year. The Indians dropped to 77-60 on the season and have now lost three in a row and eight of their last 12.
Junis worked seven scoreless innings to improve to 8-12 on the year. He struck out six, hit one, and allowed just two hits in his 93-pitch outing. Peralta lost the strike zone in the ninth, throwing ten of 16 pitches for strikes, but Hill earned his second save of the season with his big double play grounder from Diaz.
Plutko moved to 4-5 on the season in a homer-filled outing. He worked six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits (including three home runs). He did not issue a walk and he struck out eight in defeat.
O’Hearn went 3-for-4 at the plate to continue his torrid hitting to start his Major League career. He had a double and his first career two-homer game, scoring twice and driving in three to pace the Royals offense. His teammates combined to strike out 12 times and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, but they made their hits timely as seven of nine members of the lineup recorded at least one hit. Merrifield was kept off base in an 0-for-5 effort, ending his 22-game on-base streak.
Lindor had half of the Indians’ four hits on the night and ended his nearly month-long homerless drought with his 30th shot of the season in the ninth. He last homered in back-to-back contests on August 7 and 8 against Minnesota. He is now three homers and ten RBI short of his previous career highs, set a season ago.
“Our energy is down,” shared Lindor after the game. “I don’t [know] why. Personally, my energy is down. We’re at that point in the season where guys are dragging their feet a little. We have to go back to playing the Tribe Way and not taking any pitch for granted.”
With his 30th home run, Lindor joined Ramirez as the first switch-hitting teammates in Major League history to hit 30 homers in a season.
Prior to the game, the Indians placed new third baseman Josh Donaldson back on the disabled list with his left calf strain, retroactive to September 1. He hit a grand slam in a corresponding rehab start at Triple-A Columbus Monday night.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez missed his fifth straight game while dealing with a left thumb sprain.
The Indians will look to get back into the win column on Tuesday in the lone night game of the series. Right-hander Mike Clevinger (10-7, 3.17 ERA) will look to play the stopper for Cleveland, while left-hander Danny Duffy (8-11, 4.72) will counter for Kansas City. Clevinger is 1-0 against the Royals in 2018 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP and is 4-0 in eight career games against them. Duffy has not won against the Indians since 2014, posting a 2-9 lifetime record against them.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET from Progressive Field.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images