Lindor Knocks in Seven as Tribe Routs Royals; Indians 9, Royals 3
Bob Toth | On 02, Jul 2018
Francisco Lindor’s All-Star push got another boost on Monday night as the shortstop went 2-for-4 with a pair of big homers, three runs scored, and seven runs batted in as the Cleveland Indians rolled the Kansas City Royals, 9-3, from Kauffman Stadium.
Lindor provided much of the punch for the Tribe as the offense was alive and well for a second straight game, one day after a 15-run, 20-hit explosion in the series finale with the Oakland A’s on Sunday. The big support gave Corey Kluber some room to relax on the mound in his first appearance since the shortest start of his big league career last week against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The extra runs would come in handy for Kluber, who found himself in a quick hole in the first inning against the Royals. Leadoff man Whit Merrifield got ahead in the count 2-0 before sending a four-seamer over the wall in left to put Kansas City up, 1-0. After an out, a double by Mike Moustakas and a single from slumping Salvador Perez made it a 2-0 hole for the Tribe.
The Indians had stranded a runner at second in the first inning after a two-out walk and a stolen base by Jose Ramirez against Jakob Junis. They left another runner on base in the second after Yan Gomes was hit by a two-out pitch. That changed in the third, when Cleveland knotted the game up with another big inning. Rajai Davis, a late addition to the starting lineup, kicked off his three-hit day at the plate with a double to left. Lindor dropped down a sacrifice to move him to third, but reached safely on a fielding error by Junis. A sacrifice fly from Michael Brantley scored Davis before Ramirez sent a double to right, putting a pair in scoring position for Edwin Encarnacion. He replicated Brantley’s effort, lifting a sacrifice to right to score Lindor with the tying run. With the go-ahead run at third in Ramirez, the Indians could not deliver as Yonder Alonso grounded out to end the inning.
Kluber retired the side in order in the bottom of the third before his offense gave him a commanding lead. With one out in the inning, Gomes singled. Tyler Naquin and Davis were each hit by hanging breaking balls to load the bases. Lindor stepped in and took three pitches in after a first pitch foul ball, then found a changeup to his liking, sending a laser to right for a grand slam, putting the Tribe on top for the first time, 6-2.
Things remained the same until the sixth, when Lindor came through again. With one down, Naquin and Davis each reached with singles. Lindor got into a lengthy battle with Junis, fouling off four pitches before working the count to even. On the eighth pitch of the at bat, he got a slider out over the plate that he drove over the wall in right-center for a three-run shot, putting the Indians up, 9-2, while knocking Junis out of the game.
Kluber came back out for the home half of the sixth, getting through the inning after allowing a leadoff single to Rosell Herrera and back-to-back two-out singles by Lucas Duda and Emilio Bonifacio, the latter of which drove home Herrera with the third Royals run of the night.
The Indians moved to 46-37 on the season with their series opening win and are now 5-2 on the season against the Royals. The home club dropped to 25-59 on the year and has now lost 23 times in their last 28 games.
Both clubs wore special editions of their jerseys in celebration of the Fourth of July holiday later this week.
KLUBER BACK IN CONTROL
Kluber worked around the early difficulties in the first to give the Indians six quality innings on Monday. He allowed three runs over his six frames with no walks and five strikeouts. It served as a good bounce-back effort after his previous start at Busch Stadium, when he was charged for a season-high six runs in just an inning and two-thirds in a loss to the Cardinals.
Kluber is now 12-4 on the season with a 2.64 ERA.
JUNIS COULD NOT MAINTAIN
Junis was unable to protect his early lead, as his own fielding error helped prolong the third inning, giving the Indians extra chances to score. He would hit three batters, with two coming in to score on the Lindor grand slam. He would be charged with all nine runs (eight of which were earned) in five and one-third innings. He walked one and gave up eight hits on the night while striking out a pair to take his tenth loss of the season.
CHISENHALL SHELVED AGAIN
Lonnie Chisenhall was a late scratch just minutes before the game when he suffered what is being called a moderate left calf strain while warming up for Monday’s contest. Manager Terry Francona shared in his postgame interview that the injury was going to require a disabled list trip for the 29-year-old right fielder.
Outfielder Greg Allen would be the likely call-up candidate and the timing could not be better, as he extended his hitting streak at Triple-A to nine straight games and eleven of the last 12. He exited the Clippers game in Toledo early on Monday in an 11-1 blowout of the Mud Hens.
The Indians will look to make it three in a row in another 8:15 PM ET start from Kansas City on Tuesday. The Royals will call up left-hander Danny Duffy (4-7, 4.94 ERA), who will look to overcome career-long struggles against the Tribe. Shane Bieber (3-0, 2.22) will aim for his fourth straight win on the mound in his first career start against the Royals.
Photo: Brian Davidson/Getty Images