Carlos Carrasco was rocked again as he was charged with six runs on six hits while retiring just two Royals hitters as Kansas City rolled to an easy 8-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in the series opener from Kauffman Stadium on Friday night.
The Royals’ offense broke out and ended the club’s ten-game losing streak behind an impressive first inning as the lineup jumped all over Carrasco, who lost for the second time in 2019. Carrasco made just 28 pitches while facing all nine Royals hitters, who put together a giant inning that proved far too much for the Tribe to overcome while dealing with a well-pitched outing from Kansas City right-hander Brad Keller.
Keller walked Leonys Martin to start the ball game before striking out Jose Ramirez, Jake Bauers, and Carlos Santana swinging. The flood gates then burst open for the Royals, as they used an aggressive approach against Carrasco to jump out to a big and early lead. Whit Merrifield, whose 31-game hitting streak came to an end on Thursday night in an 0-for-6 performance, started a new streak with a single to right. Adalberto Mondesi drove a four-seamer to right-center and motored around the bases with his fourth triple of the year to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. A changeup over the middle of the plate on the first pitch to Alex Gordon was driven down the right field line for a two-run home run to quickly make it a 3-0 game. Carrasco walked Jorge Soler on four straight pitches before singles by Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier loaded the bases. Lucas Duda knocked another run in with a sacrifice fly and, after a strikeout by Martin Maldonado, Chris Owings scored a pair with a double to left, making it a 6-0 game and sending Carrasco to an early shower.
Nick Wittgren entered in relief and retired Merrfield in his second at bat of the inning on a grounder to short to leave Owings on the base paths.
The Indians responded with their only run of the game in the top of the second. After a groundout by Hanley Ramirez, Tyler Naquin won an eight-pitch battle with Keller, homering deep into the seats in right to make it a 6-1 deficit.
Cleveland missed a chance to cut into the KC lead in the third against Keller. Martin reached on a one-out infield single to short and moved to third on a double to right by the slumping J. Ramirez. Jake Bauers was unable to move the runners in as he grounded out to short for the second out. Santana was intentionally walked to load the bases, but H. Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice force at second to leave the bags full.
After an inning and one-third of one-hit relief from Wittgren, the Indians turned to Tyler Olson. He worked a perfect third, but got into trouble in the fourth with a big two-out hit. Merrifield doubled to right with one down before Mondesi struck out. Gordon followed Merrfield’s two-base hit with one of his own, driving in the team’s seventh run before Gordon was gunned down at third to end the inning.
The Indians loaded the bases again in the fifth, but could not add to the scoreboard. Eric Stamets drew a leadoff walk and, after a strikeout by Martin, J. Ramirez was hit by a pitch. Bauers popped out to short for the second out before a wild pitch from Keller moved both men up 90 feet. Santana was intentionally walked again to load the bases, and H. Ramirez failed to deliver for a second straight at bat as he again grounded into a bases loaded, inning-ending fielder’s choice force at second.
Dan Otero worked around a pair of two-out base runners in the fifth, but he allowed a leadoff single to Owings in the sixth. A throwing error by J. Ramirez at third allowed a second runner to reach and brought Terry Francona out for Oliver Perez. He struck out the first two that he faced, but the Royals pulled a double steal situation, with Merrifield successfully swiping second (as second baseman Brad Miller dropped the ball for an error) while Owings crossed home on the back end of the play to make it an 8-1 game in a situation not necessarily abiding by baseball etiquette.
The Indians lineup failed to muster much of a threat the rest of the way, with a seventh inning walk by Martin, an eighth inning walk by Santana, and a single by H. Ramirez for his only hit of the day the rest of the production for the club at the plate. The Royals got three on base in the seventh off of Jon Edwards, around a double play grounder by Duda, and loaded the bases in the eighth against Neil Ramirez on two singles and a walk, but did no further damage.
The Royals (3-10) earned their first win in April with the 8-1 win and ended a ten-game losing streak. The Indians (8-5) dropped to 2-2 on their nine-game road trip, but have still won six of their last eight contests.
Keller finished the day with six and two-thirds innings in a quality outing. He struck out a career-high ten batters and threw 118 pitches, the most by a Royals starter since James Shields in 2014. He pitched from behind more often than not, but he limited the Indians to just three hits on the day. He walked five batters, but two of those were of the intentional variety to Santana. He moved to 2-1 on the year with a 2.45 ERA.
Carrasco made his second bad start of the year and was unable to finish the first inning for the Tribe. He worked two-thirds of an inning, allowing six runs on six hits with a walk and a strikeout on 28 pitches (15 strikes). He dropped to 1-2 and saw his already-high ERA climb to 12.60. The bullpen worked seven and one-third innings behind him, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits with eight strikeouts and four walks.
The Indians lineup managed just four hits on the day and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position while stranding ten on base. Naquin homered but struck out twice. J. Ramirez doubled, but had two more strikeouts. Martin singled and reached base safely twice more with walks. Santana was 0-for-1 officially with three walks to push his on-base percentage to .538 on the season.
Gordon had a big day at the plate as he continued his hot start to the season. He fell a triple short of the cycle, going 4-for-5 with three runs batted in. He is now hitting .390 on the year with a .491 OBP and a .732 slugging mark. Merrifield made up for the end of his hitting streak with a three-hit game at the top of the lineup. Dozier and Owings each had a pair of hits, with the latter driving in two runs. All nine Royals in the lineup reached base safely via hit or walk.
Game two of the three-game set from Kauffman Stadium is scheduled for a 7:15 PM ET first pitch on Saturday night. Right-hander Homer Bailey (0-1, 9.00 ERA) will make his third start of the season for the Royals, looking to bounce back from a seven-run outing his last time out against Seattle. The Indians will call up right-hander Jefry Rodriguez from Triple-A Columbus to make a spot start for the injured Mike Clevinger.
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