Kansas City’s Homer Bailey channeled his former self for the Royals on Saturday night, blanking the Indians over seven innings of two-hit ball in a 3-0 shutout of Cleveland from Kauffman Stadium.
Bailey was masterful and kept the Indians off balance with a mixture of offspeed pitches down in the zone while using the upper portions of the plate as he pleased with a 94 mile per hour fastball. He struck out six and walked just two while giving up a single and a double to Tribe second baseman Brad Miller.
The missing Indians offense spoiled a good spot start from second-year right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who was called up from Triple-A Columbus to make his Indians debut in place of the injured Mike Clevinger. He came one out away from making a quality start, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three, but he was dealt a loss.
Bailey breezed through the first seven batters of the game before Miller singled to right with one out in the third. Rodriguez retired the first five that he faced before a Hunter Dozier single to left in the second, but he left the runner at first.
In the third, Rodriguez was not as lucky as Martin Maldonado doubled to center to lead things off. A fly to deep left by Chris Owings moved the runner to third. Whit Merrifield was unable to get the runner home, grounding out to second, but Adalberto Mondesi delivered with a single to right field to drove in Maldonado to make it a 1-0 game.
Bailey retired the side in order in the fourth before the Royals added on with another run in the bottom of the inning. Rodriguez struck out Jorge Soler on five straight strikes, but a first pitch changeup to Ryan O’Hearn was turned into a souvenir to give Kansas City a two-run lead.
The Indians missed a huge scoring chance in the next half inning and failed to tie or take the lead. With two outs, Kevin Plawecki drew a four-pitch walk. Miller stepped in and drove the ball to right for a double, putting a pair in scoring position for the number nine hitter Max Moroff, but he supplied the Indians with one of his three strikeouts on the night to waste a rare scoring opportunities for the Tribe on the day.
Kansas City added one more in the seventh as Cleveland’s Cody Anderson made his return to the mound for the first time since September of 2016. He allowed a leadoff single to Dozier before the runner moved to second on a wild pitch. Lucas Duda walked and the pair moved up on a sacrifice by Maldonado. Anderson got a big second out by striking out Owings swinging, but he could not do the same to Merrifield, despite getting two strikes on him, as the leadoff man singled just past Moroff into left. Jake Bauers came up throwing and launched a strike to the plate – Dozier scored with ease, but Duda was caught on the throw to prevent further damage, leaving the Royals up 3-0.
After the Indians’ missed chance in the fifth, the lineup could do little else. Martin walked to start the sixth against Bailey, but he was erased two batters later on a double play grounder. He was the last man to reach, as Bailey worked a perfect seventh, Ian Kennedy followed with a pair of strikeouts in a quick eighth, and Wily Peralta closed the door with three groundouts in the ninth.
The Royals improved to 4-10 on the year and have won back-to-back games for just the second time on the season. Bailey earned his first win, a rarity for the veteran right-hander over the last season-plus. Peralta’s save in the ninth was his first of the season.
Cleveland dropped to 8-6 with a second straight loss and was passed in the American League Central standings by Minnesota, which holds a half game lead. Rodriguez took the tough luck loss, pitching well enough to deserve a win, but lacking the support from an offense that mustered just two hits on the game.
Carlos Santana was kept off base for just the second time this season. The only other Indians to reach base on the night were Martin and Plawecki via walks. The Indians had just one at bat with a runner in scoring position, which resulted in Moroff’s strikeout in the fifth. He earned the hat trick, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts to drop his season batting average and on-base percentage to .077.
The Royals strung together seven hits against Indians’ pitching, with Merrifield and Dozier recording two each. Merrifield now has five hits in the series after a three-hit performance on Friday night. Soler went 0-for-4 with three Ks.
Prior to the game, the Indians recalled Rodriguez and Anderson from Triple-A Columbus. To make room on the 25-man roster for the pitching pair, right-hander Jon Edwards and outfielder Jordan Luplow were optioned to Triple-A. Both pitchers are expected to rejoin the Clippers roster on Sunday, when the Indians will announce more roster moves. One of those moves will be the addition of outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, whose contract will be purchased from Columbus. A 40-man roster spot will need to be opened up to do so, with Clevinger being transferred to the 60-day injured list being one possibility.
Cleveland will try to avoid the three-game sweep at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a 2:15 PM ET start against Kansas City. Right-hander Corey Kluber (1-2, 3.86 ERA) will throw for the Tribe in his first start since defeating the Detroit Tigers on April 9 in a quality outing. The Royals will counter with righty Jakob Junis (1-1, 5.74 ERA), who lasted just four innings his last time out against Seattle on April 9.
Photo: AP Photo/Colin E. Braley