The Indians took two out of three from the Kansas City Royals and brought their record back above .500 following their 6-3 win Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Two home runs from Michael Brantley helped the Indians win their third series in a row. Justin Masterson recorded his ninth win of the season – which he didn’t earn in 2012 until August – following a six-inning outing in which he struck out eight and allowed nine hits. Luis Mendoza took the loss for the Royals, pitching five innings and dropping his record to 2-4 with a 4.30 ERA.
Kansas City got on the board early with two on base in the first inning with a single from Eric Hosmer and a walk issued to Salvador Perez. Justin Masterson, however, was able to work his way out of any damage by fanning Billy Butler and Lorenzo Cain.
A diving stop by Mark Reynolds in the second inning assisted in throwing out the lead runner Mike Moustakas at second, although a bouncing ball in the hole to Drew Stubbs put runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the second. Alex Gordon, who had been hitting .419 with two outs in an inning on the season, came to the plate but hit a ground out to end the inning and strand two on base for the Royals for the second time in the game.
Masterson breezed through the third inning on nine pitches, striking out Hosmer and Perez with Butler flying out to Stubbs in right field. Lonnie Chisenhall almost made it to first base in the bottom of the third when his line drive ricocheted off the glove of Hosmer at first, bouncing to the second baseman Elliot Johnson who threw Chisenhall out to Mendoza at first. Stubbs struck out swinging, and the inning ended with a ground out from Michael Bourn.
Masterson recorded his fifth strikeout of the game in the top of the fourth inning, followed by an infield single from David Lough made it to first in a close call throw from Jason Kipnis to Reynolds. Lough then made it to third on a double from Moustakas, running in the spot in which he found himself caught in a rundown during Tuesday night’s game. A base hit from Johnson brought Lough home, bringing the score 1-0 Royals in the top of the fourth inning. The hit from Johnson brought the count to three straight hits from the Royals. Johnson stole second the put runners on second and third with one out in the fourth. Masterson came back with a slider to strike out Alcides Escobar to put another out on the board and hold the Royals a little longer. Reynolds made his second diving catch of the night to end the inning.
The Indians could not get on the board in the bottom of the fourth, with Aviles, Kipnis and Carlos Santana being retired in order to lead into the fifth inning.
Hosmer stole his second base of the game in the fifth inning on another close play. Butler hit a drive through the hole into left field to single in the fifth, although Hosmer could not advance and stayed at second. Lough then singled on a ground ball to Brantley, scoring Hosmer and sending Butler to second, bringing the score to 2-0. Moustakas ground out to end the inning and keep the Royals from causing any more damage.
Michael Brantley opened the bottom of the fifth with a home run to right field, putting the Indians on the board with a score of 2-1. Reynold, Jason Giambi and Chisenhall were all retired to end the inning.
The bottom of the sixth was equally as rewarding for the Indians, with a single from Stubbs and a walk drawn on Bourn brought Aviles to the plate. Aviles singled on a hit to left field, scoring Stubbs to tie the game at 2-2. Kipnis then singled on a grounder to third, bringing Bourn to third and Aviles to second. Santana drew a walk off Mendoza, scoring Bourn and advancing all runners. Tim Collins was brought in to replace Mendoza with the bases loaded and no outs, when Brantley proceeded to hit a sac fly to Alex Gordon and score Aviles. Reynold singled, advancing Kipnis and Santana. Ryan Raburn was brought in to pinch-hit for Giambi, who struck out, followed by a ground out by Chisenhall. Although the Indians stranded runners in base, they were able to gain the lead of 4-2.
Bryan Shaw was brought in in the top of the seventh inning to replace Masterson, who walked Hosmer to start the inning. With two ground outs in the inning, Shaw struck out Lorenzo Cain to end the inning and keep the Indians ahead.
Kelvin Herrera replaced Collins for the Royals in the bottom of the seventh inning, and struck out Stubbs. Bourn followed with a wild double to Cain in center field, bringing Aviles to the plate. While at the plate, Bourn stole his 11th base of the season. A sac fly to right field by Aviles brought Bourn home, raising the count to 5-2 in favor of the Tribe.
Kipnis walked and proceeded to steal his 16th base with Santana at bat. Santana struck out on a foul tip to end the inning.
Shaw continued to pitch the eighth inning for the Tribe, with Lough, Moustakas and Johnson going down in order. Luke Hochevar replaced Herrera to start the bottom of the eighth, which was led off with Brantley’s second home run of the night, bringing the score to 6-2. The first error of the game came in the bottom of the eighth by Johnson, allowing Chisenhall to reach first and bring Stubbs to the plate. Stubbs lined out to left field to end the inning and bring the game into the ninth with the Tribe still ahead by four.
Joe Smith closed the game for the Indians, with Escobar hitting leadoff infield single to Aviles. Smith then struck out Gordon, but the score was raised to 6-3 following an RBI double by Hosmer. That would remain the final score following a double play from John McDonald and Reynolds.
The Indians raised their record to 36-35 and are now 3.5 games behind Detroit in the AL Central. They will have a day off tomorrow, during which they will hold the Annual Cleveland Indians Charities Celebrity Golf Classic at Quail Hollow Country Club. Cleveland will then host the Minnesota Twins for a three-game series starting on Friday, June 21 at 7:05 at Progressive Field. Friday’s game will have Indians LHP Scott Kazmir (3-4, 5.89) facing off against Twins RHP Sam Deduno (3-1, 3.26).
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