O’Hearn’s Second Spoils Tribe’s Ninth Inning Comeback; Royals 9, Indians 8
Bob Toth | On 25, Aug 2019
Cleveland rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth, including a three-run blast from Franmil Reyes for his second homer of the afternoon, to tie the game at eight, but Kansas City’s Ryan O’Hearn matched his feat with his second deep drive of the day as the Royals edged the Indians by a 9-8 final in ten innings on Sunday afternoon.
In the series final between the two clubs, the Indians fought back constantly throughout the day after falling in an early 3-0 hole after three innings, but they simply ran out of time and outs as the Royals held on after scoring their sixth run off of the Indians bullpen in the top of the tenth, moments after the Cleveland matched KC’s run total at eight with a four-run frame.
The Royals took a 2-0 lead in the second inning against Indians starter Shane Bieber, who managed to keep the game close for the Tribe in a quality start. After working out of a bases loaded jam in the first after a leadoff single by Whit Merrifield and back-to-back two-out walks by Alex Gordon and O’Hearn, Bieber found himself in a mess again in the second as Nick Dini and Humberto Arteaga both doubled to start the second to put runners at second and third. Nicky Lopez plated the first run of the game with an infield single to first, and Merrifield grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Arteaga scoring the game’s second run on catcher Kevin Plawecki’s throwing error before Lopez was tagged out in a rundown. A double play grounder by Jorge Soler took the Royals right out of the inning, but they owned a two-run advantage.
Bieber gave up a run in the third, but it could have been worse. Hunter Dozier started the inning with a single to center, but Gordon grounded into a double play. O’Hearn drove a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right-center for his first of two homers on the day to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.
Left-hander Eric Skoglund, making his first start of the season for the Royals, retiring the first six in a row before hitting a bump in the road in the third. Yu Chang, making the start at third for the injured Jose Ramirez, drew a four-pitch walk to start the frame. Plawecki worked the count from 0-2 to 2-2 before catching a two-seamer up in the zone that he belted over the tall wall in left for a two-run home run, cutting the Tribe’s deficit to 3-2. Greg Allen reached on a throwing error and stole second, but Cleveland left the tying run in scoring position. Francisco Lindor grounded Allen to third and Oscar Mercado grounded to third to force Allen to hold. Carlos Santana walked to put runners on the corners, but Yasiel Puig fouled out to first.
After the O’Hearn homer in the third, Bieber shut the Royals down, retiring the final 13 batters that he faced to clear seven innings with just three runs allowed. Meanwhile, the Indians struggled to break through against the Royals starter Skoglund or the KC bullpen. Cleveland left a pair in the fourth on a one-out walk by Jason Kipnis and a seeing-eye single passed a diving shortstop by Chang for his first Major League hit. Plawecki moved the pair up 90 feet on a fly out to right, but Allen flied to right to strand the pair. Skoglund got three outs in the air in the fifth before turning the game over to the bullpen. Scott Barlow struck out Puig and Reyes before getting Kipnis to ground out in a perfect sixth.
Barlow’s seventh was less than perfect as Chang notched his first big league extra base hit with a triple to center. Plawecki drove in the Tribe rookie to tie the game at three while knocking out Barlow. Tim Hill retired Allen on a sacrifice to move the go-ahead run into scoring position before Royals manager Ned Yost went back to his bullpen for Kevin McCarthy. He intentionally walked Lindor to set up force plays and got Mercado to ground into a force at second for the second out. Santana was intentionally walked to again set up forces, but Puig failed to deliver as he flied to right to leave the bases full of Indians.
The wasted opportunity proved costly for the Tribe as relievers Nick Wittgren, Phil Maton, and Hunter Wood let the game get ugly in the top of the eighth. Merrifield reached on an error by Lindor and trotted home on a moonshot by Soler to give the Royals the lead back at 5-3. Wittgren retired Dozier before walking Gordon and turning the game over to Maton. The new right-hander walked O’Hearn before striking out Bubba Starling swinging for the second out, but a walk to Dini loaded the bases. Maton hurt his own cause as a wild pitch allowed all runners to move up, extending the lead to 6-3, and Arteaga walked to reload the bases. Wood entered as the third right-hander of the inning, but he let two more cross on Maton’s tab as Lopez doubled deep to right to plate a pair, capping a five-run inning for the Royals to give KC an 8-3 lead. Merrifield struck out as the tenth man to bat.
Right-hander Jacob Barnes came on for Yost in the bottom of the eighth, looking to protect the Royals’ new five-run lead, but that advantage dropped to four as Reyes led off the inning with a clout to right-center for his second homer in as many days and his 31st of the season, making it an 8-4 game. Barnes got the next three on grounders to the keystone to keep the lead at four.
Wood fared much better in the ninth, striking out Soler and Dozier before getting Gordon to ground to first to bring the Indians to their last hopes. Facing closer Ian Kennedy, Allen struck out before Lindor homered for the 23rd time on the year to make it an 8-5 game. Mercado grounded to second for the second out before Santana worked a walk on a payoff pitch up to keep the inning alive. Puig singled to move Santana to second and a wild pitch by Kennedy moved both runners into scoring position with the tying run at the plate in Reyes. For the second time in as many innings, he came through with a clutch blast, parking a three-run home run to the bleachers in left-center to improbably tie the game at eight. Kipnis fouled out to third to send the game to extras.
The first batter of extras, O’Hearn, faced Nick Goody. Their encounter ran six pitches deep, with the final offering belted over the wall in right for the go-ahead shot, putting KC back in front by a 9-8 tally. Goody got the next three to keep the game close, but the Indians were unable to put anything together against Jorge Lopez in the bottom of the tenth. He struck out pinch-hitters Mike Freeman and Tyler Naquin for the first two outs before Allen grounded to second to end the ball game.
The loss dropped the Indians three and a half games in back of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central at 76-55. Kansas City improved to 46-85.
Skoglund worked five for the Royals in his first start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Omaha before the game. After making eleven starts in the minors and missing 80 games due to suspension, he allowed just two runs on two hits with three walks in five innings. He did not strike out a batter. The bullpen battled behind him, with Barlow and Barnes each giving up solo runs before Kennedy’s disastrous ninth allowed the Indians to even things up. Despite allowing a game-high four runs, he took home the win while Lopez earned his first save.
Bieber pitched seven strong innings for the Tribe and settled down nicely after the early damage by the KC lineup. He allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits with a pair of walks and eight strikeouts. All four relievers behind him factored into scoring somehow, either directly or indirectly via inherited runners. Wittgren allowed three (one earned) and Maton gave up a pair while walking three men in one-third of an inning. Wood struck out three over an inning and one-third, while Goody took the loss to fall to 3-1 as O’Hearn’s homer off of him proved to be the difference.
Soler’s homer in the eighth gave him 36 on the season. He struck out three times, but still delivered RBI number 90 and 91 on the year. O’Hearn reached in four of five trips, hitting a pair of solo homers and drawing a pair of walks.
The bulk of the Cleveland offense came from three sources. Of the eight hits on the day, six came via two-hit days from Reyes, Chang, and Plawecki. Reyes now has 32 homers combined on the season between San Diego and Cleveland, including five with the Tribe. In the final two games of the series, he hit three home runs and drove in seven. Chang recorded his first two big league hits in his third career game, while Plawecki plated three runs on his two-hit day. Santana was held hitless, but drew three walks out of the three-hole.
Prior to the game, the Indians placed their third baseman Ramirez on the 10-day injured list with a broken hamate bone in his right wrist, suffered during a first inning at bat on Saturday. He will have surgery on the bone on Monday in New York and his season is likely over.
With their short three-game homestand in the books, it is back to the road for the Indians as they head to Detroit to take on the Tigers in three straight beginning Tuesday night. Adam Plutko (5-3, 4.54 ERA) will make the start in the series opener, while the Tigers will call on right-hander Spencer Turnbull (3-12, 4.05).
First pitch from Comerica Park on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images