Five-Run Third Paces Tribe to Win in KC; Indians 9, Royals 5

A big day at the plate from Jake Bauers backed starting pitcher Trevor Bauer and a five-run third inning aided by a bases loaded walk and an error gave the Cleveland Indians a series opening 9-5 win over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.

The Indians opened July with a big win to even up their road trip at 2-2 after a disappointing and embarrassing series in Baltimore over the weekend. The offense came to life to make up for just two runs scored against the Orioles in their three-game set, and the bullpen picked up for Bauer, who was starting for the first time since the sudden death of his former teammate and friend, Tyler Skaggs, on Monday.

Bauer started the day strong after scratching in Skaggs’ initials and number into the back of the Kansas City mound while also sporting “TS45” on his cap. A two-out single in the first by Alex Gordon was erased when he was thrown out trying to stretch the base hit into two.

The Indians got on the board against Jakob Junis in the second. Back-to-back singles by Jose Ramirez and Bauers put runners on the corners for Roberto Perez. He skied the payoff pitch to center field, scoring Ramirez to give the Indians an early lead.

The lead lasted just one out into the home half of the second when Jorge Soler tied the game. He jumped on a first pitch fastball from Bauer and belted it 451 feet to the left of center to even things up on his 23rd homer of the year.

Trip two through the order for the Indians against Junis proved to be the backbreaker. Nine hitter Tyler Naquin opened the inning with a single and motored to third on a single by Francisco Lindor. Oscar Mercado struck out swinging before a five-pitch walk by Carlos Santana loaded the bases. Jason Kipnis fouled off three straight 2-2 pitches before drawing a walk to force in the go-ahead run in Naquin. Ramirez grounded to first, with Kipnis forced at second for the second out, but Lindor scored on the play to make it a 3-1 game. Bauers continued his sudden hot hitting stretch with a double to center that scored both base runners to extend the lead to 5-1. Perez, the eighth man to bat in the inning, grounded to Hunter Dozier at third, but his throw to first could not be scooped by Cheslor Cuthbert, allowing Bauers to score on the throwing error to give the Indians another run in the five-run inning. Bobby Bradley popped to short to end the frame.

Bauer worked around one-out base runners in the third (Whit Merrifield single) and fourth (Soler walk) before the Indians added to their lead. Santana reached on an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error by Junis. He tagged up and moved to third on a fly out by Kipnis. Ramirez struck out swinging for the second out, but manager Ned Yost went to his bullpen, bringing on newly recalled left-hander Jake Newberry to face the lefty Bauers. Bauers delivered again with his third hit in three trips, driving in Santana with a single to center to make it a 7-1 game. Perez walked before Bradley flied to left to end the inning.

Bauer – AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

The Royals responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. After Bauer retired the first two batters, Merrifield reached on an infield single to third. Adalberto Mondesi drove an 0-1 pitch over the scoreboard in right for a two-run home run to make the score 7-3.

The Indians left Naquin at third after his leadoff double in the sixth and Bauer nearly gave up a run in the bottom of the frame. Dozier led off the inning with a deep drive to center. The relay throw to third bounced off of Ramirez and Dozier blew through the stop sign hustling towards the plate, but Ramirez recovered and fired to the plate, where Perez placed the tag to gun down Dozier going for four. Soler followed with a single but was stranded as Bauer got the next two batters.

He was not as lucky in the seventh as the Royals loaded the bases against him on three straight hits. Martin Maldonado started the inning with a single to right and Billy Hamilton dropped in a base hit to left-center. Merrifield singled to center to load them up, bringing manager Terry Francona out of the Indians dugout for left-hander Oliver Perez. He was not the answer as Mondesi drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to center and Gordon singled to right to drive in Hamilton. With the bags still full of Royals, Francona went back to the mound for submariner Adam Cimber, who got Dozier and Soler to line out to leave the bases juiced and the score at 7-5.

The Indians added runs in each of the next two innings to pad their decreased lead. Facing Jake Diekman in the eighth, Perez worked a leadoff walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow struck out before Naquin singled to put runners on the corners. Lindor was hit by a pitch on the left ankle to load the bases before Mercado lined out sharply to left for the second out. With the inning hanging in the balance, Santana drove in Perez with a single to make it an 8-5 score. Kipnis lined out to leave the bases full.

After a perfect inning of relief from Nick Wittgren, the Indians added another run in the ninth against Jorge Lopez. Ramirez and Bauers opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Perez struck out and Luplow flied to center, but Naquin provided the two-out RBI-hit with a double to center, scoring Ramirez before Bauers was thrown out trying to score.

Brad Hand came on in a non-save situation in the ninth and fared much better against the Royals than he did the previous Tuesday, when he blew his first save of the season while not retiring a batter. He got Hamilton to foul out to Ramirez before Merrifield lined to center. Mondesi struck out swinging on three straight sliders to end it.

The Indians (46-38) gained another game on the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central and are seven games out. The Royals (29-57) remain on the plus side against the Indians this season at 4-3.

Bauer dealt with a lot of traffic as the Royals got to him for eleven hits on the night. He allowed five runs, two coming in after being inherited by O. Perez, on 107 pitches over six-plus innings. He struck out six and walked one.

“I threw a lot more pitches than I’d hoped for. A lot of foul balls. A lot of long at-bats,” Bauer said. “It’s just going to happen sometimes, I guess, just try to battle through it.”

Bauer is now 7-6 on the year with a 3.74 ERA.

Junis fell to 4-8 with a tough outing. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on six hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts on the night. He left after four and two-thirds innings of work at 108 pitches.

The Indians had opportunities galore throughout the night to hit with a chance to do damage. The team went 5-for-19 with runners in scoring position, led by 2-for-2 efforts by Bauers and Naquin. Bauers had a career-high four hits and drove in three as a recent adjustment at the plate seems to be paying big dividends. After a lengthy slump at the plate, he is now six for his last seven at the plate. Naquin also had four hits, driving in one and scoring once. Ramirez scored three of the Indians runs and Santana touched home twice as the pair each had two hits on the day. Santana has now reached base safely in an American League-high 25 straight games.

Merrifield had three hits for the Royals and scored a run. Gordon and Soler each had two-hit games, while Mondesi drove in three of the team’s five runs in his first game back in the lineup. Before the game, he was activated and Newberry was recalled while pitcher Scott Barlow and infielder Humberto Arteaga were optioned to Triple-A Omaha.

Mike Clevinger (1-2, 5.89 ERA) will look to get back on track in his second start since being activated from his second injured list stint of the year on Wednesday night in the middle game of three from Kauffman Stadium. He will face left-hander Danny Duffy (3-4, 4.43), the 30-year-old with a less-than-stellar career mark against the Indians (2-10 in 19 games with a 5.68 ERA).

Game time from Missouri is scheduled for 8:15 PM ET.

Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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