Late-Inning Rally Helps Tribe Even Series; Indians 5, Royals 3

The Indians and Royals resumed their respective late season playoff pushes on Tuesday night in game 2 of a three game series. With two of the best pitching staffs in the American League squaring the game shaped up to be just that a battle of the arms but the Indians managed to come up big when it counted and win 5-3.

The Indians sent righty Corey Kluber (9-5, 3.55 ERA) to the mound and the Royals countered with rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura making his major league debut.

As so many youngsters have in recent memory, Ventura seemed to have the Indians number early as he allowed a baserunner in each of the first five innings but he managed to strand the runners all five times at first.

Meanwhile the Royals offense quickly took advantage of their early opportunities. In the first inning, Emilio Bonifacio drew a one out walk and then scored when Eric Hosmer laced a double to center to put the Royals up 1-0. Hosmer advanced to third on a Billy Butler groundout but Kluber managed to strand the runner at third.

The Royals threatened again in the second when Mike Moustakas launched a leadoff double to right and then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of David Lough. Luckily, Kluber again managed to work his way out of danger striking out Alcides Escobar and getting Jarrod Dyson to groundout to strand the runner at third for the second consecutive inning.

It seemed the Royal bats would never slow down as they got back to it in the third. With one out Bonifacio connected for a single to left and then subsequently stole second on a botched pickoff attempt off the glove of Asdrubal Cabrera while Hosmer was at the plate. Kluber proceeded to issue back-to-back walks to Hosmer and Butler to load the bases for Salvador Perez who delivered a clutch at bat with a deep sac fly to left to plate another run. Moustakas got into the action again when he hit a line shot double to center to drive in yet another run and put the Royals up 3-0. Finally, Kluber escaped the inning on a Lough pop out to end the inning.

Surprisingly, the next scoring threat in this game was in fact an Indians threat. With one out in the inning, Nick Swisher beat out a throw from Bonifacio at second to nab a single. Ventura managed to strike out Jason Kipnis for the second out but Carlos Santana managed to shoot a single to right to put runners at first and third with two out. Michael Brantley stood in next, arguably the Indians best clutch hitter, and he shot a line drive to right to score Swisher and chase Ventura from the game.

The Kansas City fans saluted the young righty for his stellar MLB Debut with a standing ovation before lefty Will Smith came on in relief to face Cabrera and he subsequently walked him to load the bases with two outs. Royals’ manager Ned Yost went to his pen again to bring out righty Louis Coleman to face Ryan Raburn and delivered a clutch punch out to end the Indians threat and keep the Royals up 3-1.

The Royals got back into it in their half of the sixth after righty Bryan Shaw got a quick two outs he allowed a soft single to Dyson. The Indians then went to the pen in favor of lefty Marc Rzepcynski who allowed Dyson to steal second with Alex Gordon at the plate and then subsequently walked him to put two on and two out. Luckily, Rzepcynski managed to get Bonifacio to groundout to strand the runners.

The Indians managed to make the game interesting again in the seventh off Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera. Herrera managed to strike out Lonnie Chisenhall looking to start the inning but then hit Yan Gomes. This set the table for a huge triple off the bat of Michael Bourn to pull the Tribe to within a run. Swisher stood in next with a key at bat and came up big with a sac fly to left plating Bourn and tying the game at 3. Herrera managed to get Kipnis to line out but the damage was done.

The Royals went back to the pen again in favor of Wade Davis in the eighth and he quickly issued a leadoff walk to Santana. The Indians subbed Drew Stubbs in for Santana as a pinch runner and he advanced to second on the groundout off the bat of Brantley. Cabrera then delivered the key hit, lacing a double to left plating the go ahead run and putting the Tribe up 4-3. Ryan Raburn then got on at first on a fielder’s choice that retired Cabrera at third and he was subsequently pulled in favor of Matt Carson as a pinch runner. Chisenhall then got a bit of luck on a fielding error by Bonifacio at second putting runners at first and second. Mike Aviles then came on as a pinch runner for Chisenhall at first. Gomes stepped in and hit a shot up the middle but some excellent glove work by Davis saved a run and ended the inning.

Bourn leadoff the ninth against righty Luke Hochevar –who came on for the ninth- with a line drive solo shot to right striking for another rare run off the Royals pen to give the Tribe a 5-3 lead. After a strikeout of Swisher, he issued a walk to Kipnis before Hochevar got Jason Giambi to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Indians relievers put together 3.1 innings of shutout relief between Rich Hill, Shaw, Rzepcynksi, Cody Allen, and Joe Smith to keep the Tribe in the game all night.

Chris Perez came on in the bottom and shut the door striking out the final two Royals to lock down his 25 save and seal the deal on the Indians 5-3 win.

Cody Allen (6-1) gets the W while Wade Davis (7-11) is saddled with the loss. With the 5-3 victory, the Indians earn their 82 win guaranteeing their first winning season since 2007.

The Indians and Royals will lock horns in the rubber match and end of the season series tomorrow night 8:10 pm at Kaufmann Stadium. Danny Salazar (1-2, 2.66 ERA) takes the ball for the Tribe and will match up against Bruce Chen (7-3, 3.11 ERA).

Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images

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