Clutch Hitting, Royals Baserunning Blunder gives Tribe a Win; Indians 4, Royals 3

In a game that neither team seemed to want to win, the Indians defeated the Royals at Progressive Field on Tuesday night by a score of 4-3.

The Indians allowed two runs to score because of wild pitches, another to score because of an error and had no answer to the Royals starting pitcher, but still found a way to win an important ballgame.  The victory moved the Indians back into second place, one half game ahead of the Royals.

A day after Carlos Carrasco silenced the KC sticks, Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez looked to do the same.  Jimenez was not as sharp as Carrasco, but was still effective nonetheless.  For the evening, Jimenez worked 5.2 innings allowing two runs on two hits and four walks.  Opposing Jimenez was Ervin Santana, who stymied Tribe bats for most of the evening.

After working out of danger in the second, Jimenez worked himself into more trouble in the top of the third inning when he walked both Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon to lead off the frame.  A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, and Escobar was brought home for the game’s first run when Eric Hosmer grounded out to shortstop and former Royal Mike Aviles for the first out of the inning.  With Gordon at third, Jimenez bounced another pitch right in front of catcher Carlos Santana, which the Tribe backstop again let go past and gave Kansas City a giftwrapped 2-0 lead.  Jimenez settled down nicely after that point, but Santana had been cruising since the game started.

The Indians got a run closer in the bottom of the sixth, when they finally figured out a way to score against Santana—using unconventional swings.  With one out, Drew Stubbs flicked his bat and flared a humpback liner over the head of the shortstop for a single.  Prior to the Stubbs base knock, Santana had retired nine straight Indians.  After Stubbs stole second and Michael Bourn struck out, Mike Aviles took another “slap-style” swing and pushed a base hit into short left field that scored the speedy Stubbs and cut the Royals advantage to 2-1.

The Tribe threatened to take the lead in the seventh, when the Indians Santana led off the inning with a walk off of the Royals Santana.  After Michael Brantley grounded into a fielder’s choice, Mark Reynolds drove a ball the opposite way to the warning track, but strong winds stood the ball up and kept it in the park.  Lonnie Chisenhall, just up from Columbus, then threatened to drop one in the gap in right-centerfield, but Lorenzo Cain made an excellent diving catch to end the inning.

The Indians poor execution continued in the top of the eighth, when Hosmer started the inning with a routine tapper back to the mound.  Reliever Cody Allen fielded the ball cleanly, then heaved the ball past Reynolds at first and down the right field line.  By the time Stubbs could fire the ball back in, Hosmer was at third and Salvador Perez was coming up with the infield drawn in.  Perez did not waste time in getting to Allen, smacking his second pitch back up the middle for an RBI single and a 3-1 Kansas City lead.  Not fazed, the Indians offense battled back strongly in the bottom half.

Ryan Raburn kick-started the Cleveland rally by walking off of reliever Kelvin Herrera, who had just entered the ballgame to replace Santana.  Stubbs followed by sending a tapper back to the mound, and Herrera retired him at first, moving Raburn into scoring position.  Bourn then added gasoline to the Indians fire when he ripped a single down the left field line that scored Raburn and brought the score to 3-2.

After Aviles roped a single through the hole on a hit-and-run, Jason Kipnis smoked a double into left field to tie the game at 3-3 and moved Aviles to third.  Santana was then intentionally walked to load the bases and then Brantley lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Indians the final score of 4-3.

Vinnie Pestano worked the ninth inning for the Indians and certainly made things interesting when he allowed two straight singles to David Lough and Mike Moustakas to start the inning.  Chris Getz then helped Pestano out, failing to get down a sacrifice bunt on two straight pitches before eventually striking out.  Escobar then nearly tied the game by singling into right, but Lough made a baserunning blunder by running through the stop sign of the third base coach.  A rundown ensued, and the Indians tagged out Moustakas who was on third base when Pestano chased Lough back to the bag and prevented the run from scoring.  A four pitch walk of Gordon loaded the bases, but Pestano got Hosmer to ground out to Reynolds to end the game and earned his second save of the season in the process.

The Indians will host the Royals again on Wednesday evening at 7:05 to conclude the three game set before having an off day on Thursday.  Justin Masterson (8-5, 3.52) will take the hill for the Tribe and the Royals will counter with Luis Mendoza (2-3, 4.08).  The game can be seen on Fox Sports/Sportstime Ohio and can be heard on the Cleveland Indians radio network.

Photo: Mark Duncan/Associated Press

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