Did The Tribe Win Last Night? No. No, no, no.
Brady Singer came within four outs of firing Major League Baseball’s second no-hitter of the season in his ninth career start and the Kansas City offense lit up Cleveland pitching as the Royals took home a series win with an 11-1 victory over the Indians on Thursday.
There isn’t a lot of good to recap for the hometown Tribe in their finale against the last place Royals on Thursday. The Indians (26-18) mustered just three hits, all coming over the final two innings, and the Royals (17-28) tagged the Cleveland pitchers for a season-high eleven runs allowed to even the season series between the two clubs at 5-5.
Staring down being no-hit for the first time since July 27, 2011 (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Ervin Santana in a 3-1 win in Cleveland), the Indians narrowly escaped. Singer retired Tyler Naquin and Josh Naylor to start the eighth to bring him within four outs of the history book, looking to become just the fourth Royals pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter and the first since Bret Saberhagen on August 26, 1991. Austin Hedges, hitless in his Indians career, took the count full before a clean single through the right side ended that chance. Delino DeShields struck out swinging to end the inning.
“I was just trying to have a good at-bat, see some pitches and wait for a mistake,” Hedges said. “And he gave me one of those.”
The single ended an 0-for-12 start to Hedges’ Indians tenure. It was made possible due to the shift being put on, as the hit was otherwise a fairly routine out for most second basemen.
The Indians avoided the shutout in the ninth against Matt Harvey, who took over for Singer after throwing a career-high 119 pitches. Harvey gave up a double to right-center by Cesar Hernandez in a nine-pitch at bat, and he scored on a single to left-center by Mike Freeman. Harvey got the next three in order to put an ugly mess of a day to bed.
On the pitching side, Adam Plutko, the fourth Indians pitcher of the game, pitched an inning and one-third of one-hit relief, the only pitcher on the Cleveland side of the stat sheet to post a scoreless effort on the night.
Starter Aaron Civale gutted his way through six innings while striking out seven, despite giving up four runs. He escaped the first after a leadoff double from Whit Merrifield and struck out the side in the second. He was hit around in a long third inning as the Royals rallied with two outs, using a single by Merrifield and a walk by Mendoza-line Adalberto Mondesi to set the table. Hunter Dozier singled home Merrifield before a double steal moved both runners up. Maikel Franco cashed the chips in with a single to left that plated both runners to make it a 3-0 game.
Civale stranded runners on the corners after a pair of singles in the fourth and he set down the Royals in order in the fifth. With Civale one out away from leaving with a quality start under his belt in the sixth, Edward Olivares parked a first pitch slider over the left field wall to give the Royals a 4-0 lead.
Singer walked the second batter of the game, Freeman, who got the start for the banged up Jose Ramirez. The 24-year-old right-hander proceeded to retire the next 19 in a row before walking Carlos Santana with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, striking out six along the way.
All eleven runs scored by the Royals came with two outs in an inning.
Civale turned what was still a manageable game over to the bullpen in the seventh inning and things only got worse from there.
Dominic Leone gave up a leadoff single to Cam Gallagher, his second of the night. After a groundout and a strikeout from Leone, the reliever walked Dozier on four straight after a first pitch strike. Franco, who has had his fair share of big hits against the Indians already this season, pounded a 3-1 cutter over the center field wall for a three-run home run, putting the game well out of reach at 7-0.
Kyle Nelson, called up on Wednesday when the Indians optioned reliever Adam Cimber to their alternate site, took the mound in his Major League debut in the eighth inning. He got Matt Reynolds and Olivares to ground out up the middle, but Nicky Lopez kept the inning alive with a single to center. Gallagher drew a walk and Merrifield dropped in a single to center that scored Lopez to make it 8-0. With two on and two out, Nelson slung two sliders at Mondesi for strikes, but his 0-2 offering was a fastball in and out of the park it went on Mondesi’s second homer of the series and season, giving KC an 11-0 edge.
Leone was charged with three runs on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in an inning of work. Nelson’s unfortunate debut saw the young left-hander retire just two of the six batters that he faced, giving up a walk, two singles, and a homer. He allowed four runs on three hits and sits with a 54.00 ERA after one career appearance.
The Royals were 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Franco drove in five runs to give him 28 on the year. His homer was his seventh and he ended the night a triple short of the cycle. Merrifield sits at 26 RBI after a three-hit game.
With a disappointing 3-4 homestand completed, the Indians will take to the road for their final road trip of the season. The Clevelanders will report to the Twin Cities for the first leg of three stops, taking on the Minnesota Twins in three straight over the weekend. Shane Bieber (7-0, 1.25 ERA) will look to end the Indians’ three-game losing skid in the series opener from Target Field on Friday night in an 8:10 PM ET first pitch.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images