Kluber Struggles Early, Tribe Offense Stalls Late; Royals 7, Indians 4

Did the Tribe Win Last Night? No. Corey Kluber‘s season after his Cy Young campaign continued to be difficult. He finally got a little bit of run support, but labored through a fourth straight rough outing as the Indians lost in Kansas City 7-4. Cleveland dropped to 10-17, in losing two of the three games in the series with the Royals.

The Royals jumped on Kluber early with four first-inning runs to put the Tribe in an early hole. However, the Indians got to within a single score, twice, at 4-3 and 5-4 but could not get that one more key hit to put them over the hump.

For a second straight game, Cleveland sent a Kansas City starter to the showers early, roughing up Edinson Volquez for three runs in three innings and drawing six walks off the Royals starter. Franklin Morales relieve and shut down the Tribe for two innings, stifling Cleveland’s momentum.

As for Kluber, he was excellent after the first inning, allowing just one more runs in his five and two-thirds stanzas of work. However, the overall numbers were not pretty as he gave up five earned runs on seven hits and walked a pair. He did strike out seven as he looked more like his old self from the second inning-on.

WP: Morales (3-0)    LP: Kluber (0-5)

Key Inning: Bottom of the seventh. While the Royals had a bigger inning with four runs in the first, the Indians were able to match that output. It was the home half of the seventh in which Kansas City really drove home the final blows.

Clinging to a 5-4 lead, the Royals took it to Tribe relievers Nick Hagadone and Scott Atchison. Hagadone began the inning, coughing up back-to-back singles to Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales. Atchison came on and fared no better. Salvador Perez greeted the Tribe rightie with a single to load the bases and Omar Infante drove home a pair with a double.

Closer Cody Allen entered and retired three of the four batters he faced, though it was too little too late to rescue the Tribe’s mostly faded hopes at that point.

Player of the Game: Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer was all over the place. Kansas City’s cleanup hitter and two hits, including his fifth homer of the year, three RBI and scored twice. Hosmer’s three-run bomb in the first was the real exclamation point of a huge frame for the hosts.

They Said It: “(Kluber’s) our guy,” Indians manger Terry Francona said after the game, giving his struggling ace a vote of confidence. “If we’re going to get where we want to go, he’s going to be a big part of it. (Today) I thought he had a number of pitches that were so close. He followed the glove but was just off.”

Standings: The Indians have not won consecutive games since the seasons second and third contests of the year in Houston. The standings definitely show that as the club sits alone in last place, 7.5 game behind first place Kansas City. At 18-10, the Royals are a .5 game up in the American League Central Division on the Detroit Tigers. The Tribe is a game behind fourth-place Chicago.

Etc.: The Indians actually had more walks, with six, than hits. Lonnie Chisenhall had the Tribe’s lone multi-hit game with a single and a rare triple. David Murphy collected two RBI. Carlos Santana, did blast his fourth home run of the season. At the time, in the seventh inning, it drew the Tribe to within 5-4 and broke a stranglehold the Royals always tough bullpen had on the team.

After gaining six walks, three runs and two hits in the first three innings against Morales, the Indians had just two hits the rest of the way against Kansas City’s relievers.

Analysis: The Indians really need their ace Kluber to start pitching like a number one guy and Cy Young candidate again. Without him, the rotation and team is lost.

Four hits will rarely get it done in Major League Baseball. The Tribe’s offense has to find a way to be consistent. After a 10 run, 13 hit effort on Wednesday night, the bats went largely silent on Thursday. That has happened far too often this season. Consistency must come for the Indians to get anywhere close to the level they hoped to get to before the season.

Up Next: Cleveland will look to get things turned back around when it returns home to Progressive Field for a three-game weekend series with the surprising Minnesota Twins. The Twins, picked by many before the season to finish last by a mile, are 16-13. The series kicks off Friday night, as Trevor Bauer will try to shake off what was a poor start his last time on the mound and pitch more like the guy who was one of baseball’s pleasant April surprises. Mike Pelfrey will pitch for Minnesota in the series lid lifter. Veteran Bruce Chen is scheduled to make his Cleveland debut Saturday and Danny Salazar will take the hill in the series finale Sunday.

Photo: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

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