A back-and-forth game between the Indians and Royals went in favor of Kansas City as the visiting club rallied for six unanswered runs to defeat the Tribe, 10-9, from Progressive Field on Friday night.
The Indians (18-19) took an early lead and reclaimed it with a six-run fourth inning, but Cleveland’s pitching could not slow down the Kansas City (13-25) offense, which chipped away with runs in three straight innings to take the lead for good in the seventh on a big home run off of Andrew Miller.
The Tribe grabbed a three-spot in the first inning after Trevor Bauer worked around a two-out infield single. Working against Royals’ starter Jason Hammel, who was seeking his first win at Progressive Field in his career, new two-hitter Michael Brantley singled to right and trotted home on a big fly from Jose Ramirez. His eleventh homer of the season put the Indians up, 2-0. Edwin Encarnacion grounded to third for the second out, but Yonder Alonso hit a solo homer just over the railing in left-center to give Cleveland a strong 3-0 start.
That lead would not last the next half inning as Bauer had to work hard after an eight-pitch first. He got Lucas Duda to ground to short to start the inning, but Whit Merrifield doubled to left. A grounder to second by Alex Gordon left Merrifield on second, but an RBI-single to center from Alcides Escobar gave the Royals their first run of the night. A single from former Tribe outfielder Abraham Almonte put runners on the corners for Jon Jay, who doubled to left to plate a pair and tie the game at three.
Hammel retired the side in order in the second and the Royals got back to work against Bauer in the third. With one down, Salvador Perez reached on an error by Greg Allen, who was not able to make a diving catch in center. A double by Duda put two in scoring position and Merrifield walked to load the bases. Gordon struck out swinging for a big second out, but Bauer could not retire Escobar, who walked to force in the go-ahead run, giving the Royals a 4-3 lead.
The Indians rallied for a gigantic inning against Hammel, knocking him out of the game while using just three hits to push across six runs in the fourth. Encarnacion legged out an infield single to short and moved to second on a walk by Alonso. Jason Kipnis bunted into a force at third for the first out, but Tyler Naquin delivered with a two-run double to extend his hitting streak to eight games and give the Indians a 5-4 lead. Roberto Perez walked and, after a fly out by Allen, Francisco Lindor walked to load the bases for Brantley. He delivered what appeared to be the game clincher, blasting a grand slam to right center to break the game open, 9-4, and send Hammel to the showers.
The last two home runs hit by Brantley, who had not hit a grand slam through his first 72 career home runs, have both been with the bags full and each has come this month.
Bauer could not slow the aggressive Royals lineup and was unable to escape the fifth, despite his second big lead of the day. Duda doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a single by Merrifield. Gordon struck out for the first out and Escobar grounded into a force, with Duda crossing the plate to cut the Indians advantage to 9-5. Almonte singled to center, bringing Dan Otero on in relief with runners on the corners, and he got Jay to ground out to Lindor to end the scoring threat.
The Indians loaded the bases with three walks in the fifth off of Burch Smith, but could not score. The Royals then responded with another big inning to chip further into the Indians’ edge. Soler reached on a throwing error by Lindor and moved to second. He scored on a double by Moustakas. After Perez flied to right, Duda doubled Moustakas home to make it a 9-7 contest. Evan Marshall came on and got a pop up from Merrifield before walking Gordon. A single from Escobar scored Duda from second to make it a one-run game.
Miller entered in the seventh inning, making his first appearance since April 25 against Chicago. He started wild, walking Jay to begin the inning, before bouncing back with strikeouts of Soler and Moustakas. Perez, however, delivered his second homer in as many days, a two-run shot to the Home Run Porch in left to complete the comeback, giving the Royals a 10-9 lead.
The Royals bullpen took care of things from there, retiring nine of the final ten in order, giving up just a two-out walk to Lindor in the eighth. Kelvin Herrera pitched a perfect ninth, getting two groundouts and a fly out to earn his eighth save of the season.
The Royals are now averaging more than seven runs per game during their better stretch of play in May. The suspect bullpen from the Indians continued their self-destructive ways and the defense behind them was once again problematic.
“It seems like we’ve been in a lot of these kinds of crazy games,” said Tribe manager Terry Francona. “We don’t have the margin for error right now. It seems like when we make an error, it costs us. That’s the way the game is.”
ROYALS RACK UP HITS OFF BAUER
For the first time this season, Bauer was unable to complete at least five innings on the mound. His streak of six straight quality starts and seven straight starts with at least six strikeouts also came to an end, as he allowed five runs (four earned) and struck out just three in four and two-thirds innings.
“His stuff was so good. It was coming out of his hand so well,” said Francona of Bauer’s start. “He got into throw mode instead of pitch. I think he felt so good he just lost his command. A lot of hits, couple errors, couple walks, tons of base runners.”
Having previously allowed a high of seven hits in a start, the Royals tagged Bauer for eleven hits as they used an aggressive approach at the plate against him.
“I felt like I had to strike everybody out to get an out,” shared Bauer after the game. “It’s tough on nights like that. In the second inning, I gave up two or three hits on balls that weren’t even strikes…
“Ultimately, as a team, we’re not playing winning baseball right now. The offense came through big tonight but we couldn’t win because we beat ourselves in two other aspects of the game… We beat ourselves twice in New York. We beat ourselves again tonight. If we want to get to where we want to go as a team, we can’t keep playing like that. We gave them five unearned runs tonight. I’ve got to pitch better. On nights when we score nine runs, we should win 100% of the time. We’re just beating ourselves. We’re better than this.”
INDIANS MASH ON HAMMEL
Hammel’s offense got him off the hook for a fourth straight loss and what should have been his fifth L of the year. Instead, the Royals won for the first time in a Hammel start this season.
It was not for the contributions of the 35-year-old, who was tagged for nine runs on six hits with three walks and one strikeout. He allowed three home runs, including a pair in the first and the big grand slam to ice his night in the fourth.
Naquin’s big two-run double in the fourth put the Indians on top and extended his hitting streak to eight games, but it also came at a cost. He appeared to tighten up while pulling in to second base, bringing Francona and the trainer out of the Indians dugout to check on him. He remained in the game initially, but was replaced after that half inning by Brandon Guyer.
During the game, the Indians announced that Naquin was dealing with left hamstring tightness. He was sent for an MRI during the game.
“He went and got an MRI tonight,” said Francona. “We won’t be able to have it read until the morning. We thought it might be a cramp…We won’t have it read until the morning, so we’ll see how that goes.”
The Indians activated Miller prior to the game after spending more than two weeks on the 10-day disabled list recovering from a left hamstring strain. To make room on the roster for the All-Star lefty, Tyler Olson was placed on the paternity list as his wife was expected to be induced for the birth of their child.
“He walked the first hitter, but then after that I thought he threw the ball very well. He just hung a ball to Salvy,” said Francona of Miller’s return. “I thought he threw the ball very well. I know it was a tough…he didn’t want to give up a home run. But I think that inning for him here was better than pitching in a Triple-A game.”
Miller worked two-thirds of an inning, allowing two runs on one hit with a walk and two strikeouts. The two runs allowed were the first runs that he has surrendered this season.
Junis has pitched very well this season for the Royals in his second year in the Majors. Five of his seven starts have been quality outings. He has been prone to the home run in bunches, giving up three to the Angels and five to the White Sox in losses, but he has contained those issues during his more successful efforts.
Clevinger started off strong in his last outing, his fifth no-decision of the season. He struck out ten Yankees batters and allowed just one hit over seven and one-third innings, but four walks would come back to haunt him. He is 3-0 in six career games against the Royals with a 2.12 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, including a no-decision earlier this season when he allowed just one run in seven and one-third innings.
If you have followed along with Tribe Trivia this season, you know the drill by now. Three games, three trivia questions, all with answered themed around the Indians and Royals. Answers to follow Friday night’s contest in the game recap.
In 1988, the Indians and Royals completed a rare swap for the two franchises. The Indians acquired left-handed pitcher Bud Black from the Royals and sent this 30-year-old first baseman/left fielder/DH to Kansas City in return. He was coming off of his first and only All-Star appearance in 1987. He previously played in the Yankees organization and made his MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs prior to coming to Cleveland and after his time with the Royals, he played for the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays.
Who am I? – Pat Tabler
This speedy outfielder with a fun name joined the Indians in 2002 from the St. Louis Cardinals. He was part of a seven-player trade with Boston three and a half years later and moved on to Kansas City in a 2008 trade. He would later return to Cleveland and helped the team make the playoffs in the last season of his 15-year career.
Who am I? – Coco Crisp
This long-time Royals catcher spent the final days of the 1984 season with the Indians. He made his way into just one game for Cleveland and delivered in improbable fashion, hitting a two-out, pinch-hit, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Indians a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins. It would be the only at bat of his Indians career, giving him a perfect 1.000/1.000/4.000 slash for his Tribe career. He returned to Kansas City following the season.
Who am I? – Jamie Quirk
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak