Bullpen Falters in Postseason Tune Up; Royals 9, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 29, Sep 2018
The Cleveland Indians lost an inconsequential game on Saturday night, but could have lost much more after an injury to Yan Gomes led to several stitches. As for the game results, Andrew Miller allowed a three-run home run in a four-run sixth and Cody Allen gave up two more the next frame as the Indians dropped a 9-4 decision in Kansas City with the Royals.
While manager Terry Francona looked to get his players prepped for postseason work next Friday against the Houston Astros, things did not go as planned. Corey Kluber exited early as planned after allowing three runs in five innings, but the bullpen struggled with six runs allowed from two of their workhorses in the latter innings. Far more concerning, however, was the injury to All-Star catcher Gomes, who left the game in the third after hitting his throwing hand on the bat of Alex Gordon.
Gomes hurt himself in a bizarre play behind the plate early in the third with the Tribe up, 3-1. Adalberto Mondesi drew a rare walk off of Kluber to start the inning. With Gordon at the plate, Mondesi broke for second on an 0-1 pitch and Gomes tried to throw through to second, but his throwing hand struck Gordon’s bat out over the plate. As the throw fluttered high and late to the bag, Gomes looked down at his hand, which was bleeding. He left the field immediately and was replaced by Roberto Perez. Gordon was called out for interference.
“I think we kind of dodged a bullet right there,” shared Francona in his postgame update regarding Gomes’ condition. “When it first happened, it was bleeding like crazy. He got a couple of stitches, but it’s just a contusion. The doctors feel like, in a couple of days, he gets the swelling out of there. He could play with the stitches, but they feel like they can have them out of there by Tuesday or Wednesday.
“I’m sure he’s going to be sore for a few days, but it looks like he’s going to be okay.”
The game, bearing only an effect on individual statistics and health at this point, was a back-and-forth contest between the two clubs until the sixth, when Miller came on for Kluber in a 3-3 game. The southpaw struck out Brian Goodwin on a diet of sliders, but Alcides Escobar made his way on base with a single to left. Meibrys Viloria was retired for the first time with a liner to left for the second out, but Miller lost Whit Merrifield on a five-pitch walk. The next pitch turned the tides, as Mondesi’s big weekend continued with a three-run blast to center to double the Royals score in the 6-3 contest. Gordon singled to second and Hunter Dozier singled to left before Ryan O’Hearn knocked in the runner in scoring position with a single to center, bringing Francona out to the mound for Dan Otero. He got Jorge Bonifacio to line to short.
C. Allen was hurt for a pair of extra runs while appearing in back-to-back games in his last appearance of the regular season. Goodwin doubled to start the bottom of the seventh and scored on a single by Escobar. Viloria singled to put two on, but Allen ended his brief outing with a strikeout swinging of Merrifield. Oliver Perez entered in relief and got Mondesi to foul out to the catcher, but Gordon drove in the ninth run of the night with a single to right-center. Dozier flied to right with runners on the corners to prevent worse damage.
Jose Ramirez wrapped up a three-hit day leading off the eighth, knocking in the Tribe’s final run with a solo blast to right-center, just his second homer since August 17, while making it a 9-4 game.
The Indians started the scoring early in the first when Michael Brantley and J. Ramirez each singled to put runners on the corners with one out against Royals starter Jakob Junis. After Ramirez moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, Edwin Encarnacion lofted a sacrifice fly to make it a 1-0 game.
Kluber allowed a leadoff single to Merrifield in the bottom half, giving him a 19-game hitting streak. Merrifield stole two bases, but Kluber worked around the threat.
Cleveland wasted a pair of one-out singles in the second and Kansas City cashed in to tie the game. Bonifacio reached on an infield single to third as Josh Donaldson’s off-balance throw pulled Yonder Alonso off of first. Kluber struck out his second batter of the inning, but Escobar reached on an infield single to short and Viloria blooped in a single to shallow right just past the glove of J. Ramirez that scored the tying run.
The Tribe struck right back with a pair of runs in the third. J. Ramirez doubled with one down and was joined on the bases by Donaldson after his two-out walk. Alonso worked the count full before putting the Indians back on top with a single to right. Melky Cabrera added one of his own as Cleveland claimed a 3-1 lead.
A defensive blunder and a strange ruling by the official scorer led to two earned runs for Kluber in the fourth. Bonifacio walked before Kluber struck out Goodwin and got Escobar to fly to right. Viloria singled to center and Merrifield hit a soft liner towards Cabrera in right. He misplayed the ball and botched what looked to be a routine catch, allowing both base runners to come in to score to tie the game with Merrifield settling in with a gift double. Mondesi grounded out to end the inning.
The loss moved the Indians to 90-71 on the year, while the Royals moved to 58-103.
Kluber worked five innings in his final regular season start. He threw 80 pitches, including 59 strikes, and allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He finished the season with a 20-7 record and a 2.89 ERA, one that was inflated by several runs curiously ruled as earned after Cabrera’s fifth inning misplay.
“I think there’s a couple of times I made mistakes, but that happens every game,” said Kluber. “For the most part, I executed pitches the way I wanted to. It may not have always gone the way I wanted it to, but that’s part of the game.”
“I thought he was actually pretty good,” Francona said of his Game 1 starter. “His line’s not going to look as good. We didn’t finish some plays. Melky kind of came in and then didn’t make the play and that ended up being three. After that, the game got ugly.”
Ramirez came up just a triple short of the cycle in his three-hit game. It marked just his second homer in September and his second multi-hit game in the month as his offensive issues at the plate have limited him to just a .193 average.
Every Royals hitter recorded a hit off of Cleveland pitching. Six of the nine batters knocked in at least one run and seven of nine crossed the plate successfully.
Baseball will kick off around the country at 3:15 PM ET on Sunday. The Indians will send Carlos Carrasco (16-10, 3.42 ERA) and Trevor Bauer to the mound to get in their final preparations for the playoffs. The Royals will call on left-hander Eric Skoglund (1-5, 5.40).
Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel