Santana Silences Indians Offense; Royals 3, Indians 2
Bob Toth | On 27, Apr 2013
Ervin Santana continued his hot start to the season, quieting the Indians offense and striking out five on the way to a 3-2 final at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Saturday night.
The Royals started the scoring on the evening in the bottom of the second. Outfielder Jeff Francoeur drew a leadoff walk after falling behind in the count early, 1-2, against Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir. Salvador Perez made Kazmir pay, driving a fastball down the right field line for a two-run home run.
It was the first of the year for Perez and the third homer allowed by the Indians starter.
Cleveland missed a big opportunity with one out and the bases loaded in the top half of the very next inning. Drew Stubbs singled to right and after a groundout, Jason Kipnis singled on a soft liner right at second base. Asdrubal Cabrera singled to right, but third base coach Brad Mills alertly held the speedy Stubbs at third while right fielder Francoeur threw a perfect one-hop throw to the plate. Nick Swisher, with a chance to plate the Indians first runs of the night, instead grounded to second, where the Royals second baseman began a 4-6-3 double play to end the scoring threat.
Kansas City tacked on an insurance run in the seventh as they forced the Indians to use five different pitchers in the inning. Cody Allen started the frame by striking out Miguel Tejada swinging. He was replaced by Nick Hagadone, who was able to get the third straight strikeout of Elliot Johnson on the evening. With two outs, he gave up a single to left center to Alex Gordon and was lifted for reliever Bryan Shaw.
Gordon stole second on Shaw’s first pitch and moved up to third base on a wild pitch from Shaw. A walk to Alcides Escobar and his steal of second helped to take the bat out of the hands of Billy Butler, who also drew a walk. Left-hander Rich Hill came on to relieve Shaw with the bases loaded, but walked the left-handed hitting Eric Hosmer, forcing in Gordon for the third run of the game. Joe Smith relieved and retired Lorenzo Cain on a comebacker to end the frame.
The Indians made a late push in the top of the ninth and stranded the tying run 90 feet away.
Royals closer Greg Holland came on in relief of Kelvin Herrera. Mark Reynolds reached on an infield single and advanced to second on an error that allowed Lonnie Chisenhall to reach base. Holland settled back down and struck out Stubbs, but gave up a two-out, two-run triple to the wall in right center to Michael Brantley to make it a 3-2 game. But Kipnis would strike out swinging for his third of the night to end the ball game.
It was the sixth save of the season for Holland.
Santana (3-1) continues to surprise the American League. He worked seven innings on the night, allowing no runs on six hits. He struck out five Cleveland batters and lowered his season ERA to 2.00.
He has quality starts in each of his last four starts on the season. After allowing four earned runs in a 5-2 loss to the White Sox in his first start of the season, he has won three of his last four appearances and allowed just four runs in those four games. He has pitched no fewer than six innings in a start this year and is averaging more than seven per start.
Santana entered the night’s action with a 2-8 record all-time against the Indians.
“He established his fastball for strikes so well and you have to respect everything else. We were hitting behind in the count,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “His arm is trememndous. You have to respect him in the strike zone. You can’t eliminate any pitches.”
Kazmir (0-1) was much improved in his second outing of the year, despite earning the loss. He worked out of jams effectively. He threw just under 100 pitches in five innings of work, allowing five hits and walking a pair. He allowed two earned runs, including his third home run in two starts. He struck out four on the evening, including the 1,000th of his major league career.
“He pitched and held his velocity with his fastball. When he wanted more, he went and got it and stayed in his delivery. He pitched the entire time,” said Francona. “Early in the game I thought he was leaving some balls over that were wandering back and he couldn’t quite get it in, but once he started getting it in, that opened everything up.”
With the run allowed by the bullpen in the seventh, a string of over 20 innings without allowing a run ended.
In eight of the Indians last ten games, they have scored three runs or less. They dropped to 8-12 with the loss and are now 6-6 on the road.
With the win, the Royals improve to 12-8 on the season and 5-2 at home. They have a one game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
Justin Masterson will start the 2:10 PM start against Jeremy Guthrie. Masterson (4-1, 1.85) was not quite as sharp in his last outing against Chicago, but earned the win despite tying a season-high with four walks. Guthrie (2-0, 3.86) will face the team that drafted him in 2002. He is 2-2 with a 6.84 ERA in six games against the Indians in his career, but is 7-0 in his last 15 starts overall.
In the 8:10 PM nightcap, Corey Kluber (1-0, 1.80) and Will Smith (0-0, 0.00) will make spot starts. For Kluber, it will be his third appearance and first start. Smith will be added as the 26th man for the doubleheader.
Catch Sunday’s early action on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the Cleveland Indians radio network. The late game will not be televised, but can be heard on the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images