The Cleveland Indians did something for the first time on Friday night since August 23 – they lost.
A back and forth ball game went in favor of the Kansas City Royals, who ended the Indians’ 22-game winning streak in a 4-3 contest at Progressive Field.
Trevor Bauer took the mound looking to continue the Tribe’s dominance of opposing teams over the last three-plus weeks, but the Royals bats were ready for him, racking up nine hits and four runs off of the Cleveland starter. The Indians would give him the first lead of the game and reclaimed that lead again in the third inning, but the Royals chipped away and held on for the victory.
The Indians took that first lead in the first inning. Francisco Lindor doubled to left-center off of Royals left-hander Jason Vargas. A walk to Austin Jackson put two on before Jose Ramirez grounded out to first, moving both runners up. Edwin Encarnacion lofted a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Lindor to put Cleveland up, 1-0.
The Royals got the run back in the top of the second. With one out, Alcides Escobar cleared the wall in left for a solo homer, evening the score at 1-1. Bauer would work out of further trouble as Alex Gordon doubled to center, but Drew Butera and Whit Merrifield each grounded out to leave the game tied.
Kansas City got another runner into scoring position in the third when Lorenzo Cain started the inning with a single. A strikeout and a pair of groundouts would leave him stranded at second.
The Indians took the lead back in the bottom of the third with two big two-out hits. Jackson doubled to right-center and two pitches later, Ramirez sent a high offering from Vargas deep to left. His two-run blast moved Cleveland back in front, 3-1.
Bauer could not protect the lead. Brandon Moss led off the fourth with a drive to center for a solo home run, making it a 3-2 game. The next inning, Cain doubled to right with one out and scored with ease on a single to left by Eric Hosmer to tie the game at three.
The Indians stranded Lindor at second in the bottom of the fifth after he singled with one out and stole second, but with a runner in scoring position and two outs, Ramirez grounded out to third.
Bauer came back out for the sixth but would not finish the inning, striking out Escobar before giving up a single to Gordon. Joe Smith came on in relief and struck out Butera for the second out before a single to right by Merrifield. With two on and two out, Cain singled back up the middle, scoring Gordon with the go-ahead run. Tyler Olson was summoned from the bullpen and got Hosmer to ground out, but the Royals had a 4-3 lead.
Cleveland could not capitalize on leadoff walks in the next two frames. Encarnacion walked against Vargas in the sixth, but would be left at first. Roberto Perez did the same in the seventh against Trevor Cahill. His pinch-runner, Tyler Naquin, would move to second on a passed ball with one out before Lindor walked, but Jackson grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Indians got another base runner in the eighth via free pass when Cahill walked Carlos Santana with two outs, but Jay Bruce grounded to short to strand another man.
Left-hander Mike Minor came on for the save in the ninth. After Yandy Diaz started the Tribe’s last hopes with a single to right, Minor struck out the next three, getting Yan Gomes looking, pinch-hitter Francisco Mejia swinging, and one of the previous night’s heroes, Lindor, swinging as well.
Vargas moved to 16-10 on the season in his sixth start against the Tribe on the year. He worked five innings, giving up three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. The Royals moved a game closer to the .500 mark at 73-74 on the season.
The aggressive Royals lineup had a lot of base traffic against Bauer and chipped away with runs in four separate innings against him, including using a pair of home run balls to provide their scoring. The Tribe’s righty lasted five and one-third innings, giving up four runs on the nine hits with a walk and six strikeouts while dropping to 16-9 on the season.
The rare loss dropped the Indians to 91-57 on the season. Their magic number to win the American League Central Division decreased to two, however, with a loss by the Minnesota Twins against Toronto. The club was given a roaring standing ovation after the final out of the contest in appreciation of the record-breaking streak from its home club. The Indians set a new American League record in surpassing Oakland’s 20-game streak from 2002 and a new modern day Major League record while passing the Chicago Cubs’ 21-game streak set in 1935 on Thursday. Only one other team can claim a longer streak without a loss – the 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 straight, although the streak came in 12- and 14-game winning streaks wrapped around a tied ball game that did not count in the regular season records.
The Indians will look to start a new streak on Saturday afternoon in game three of the four-game series with the Royals. Carlos Carrasco (15-6, 3.41 ERA) will take the ball looking to help the Indians clinch their ninth AL Central Division title. He fired six scoreless innings of seven-hit baseball in his last start against Detroit for his fourth straight quality start and third straight winning decision. Right-hander Jason Hammel (8-11, 4.91) will counter for KC. He was shelled for five runs on ten hits in his last start against the Chicago White Sox in just three and one-third innings in a loss. He allowed four runs on six hits in six and two-thirds innings in his last start against Cleveland on August 26, also a losing effort.
First pitch from Progressive Field is scheduled for 4:10 PM ET.
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