Indians comeback late to stun Royals 4-3
Tribe scores three runs late to grab much needed victory
CLEVELAND--Things did not look good early at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, but just as they have been accustomed to all season long at Progressive Field, the Tribe would fight back.
Down 3-1 with one out in the eighth, the Indians battled back to score three runs in the bottom half of the inning to sneak by the Kansas City Royals for the 4-3 victory.
The win puts Cleveland (35-35) back at the .500 mark and back in second place just 4 1/2 games in behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central.
“We did everything tonight except lose, and that’s good,” Tribe managerTerry Francona said. “We were down 2-0 early, but it seemed like more.”
Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 4.66 ERA) started shaky, but ended the night strong giving up just two runs on two hits through 5 2/3 innings. The lanky right-hander however did yield four walks in the ballgame, as two of his free passes he would surrender came around to score.
“It was kind of a weird line for him,” Francona said of Jimenez. “But he only gave up two so he never gave in. It was just kind of a weird night.”
After Jimenez walked the first two batters in the third inning, Kansas City notched the game's first run for the second straight night on an RBI groundout by Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. The run came after both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch by Jimenez.
One batter later, glimpses of Monday night flashed in front of the eyes of Tribe fans again, as Jimenez threw another wild pitch past catcher Carlos Santana to put the Royals up 2-0.
Cleveland came into the ballgame leading the majors in wild pitches with 38 on the season. Of the 38 wild pitches, 29 have come with Santana behind the plate.
Offensively, the Tribe would battle back in the sixth after Royals starter Ervin Santana (5-5, 2.64 ERA) shutout the Wahoo's for five innings, surrendering just one base hit. Shortstop Mike Aviles put the Indians on the board with an RBI single to left, cutting the deficit to just one run.
At the time, it was just the third run Cleveland scored in their last 27 innings.
“They came back yesterday and we were able to comeback today,” centerfielder Michael Bourn said. “We always want it, but I’m not going to say needed it. We always want to win those close games because they matter.”
Nick Hagadone relieved Jimenez and pitched a solid 1 1/3 innings before Francona turned the game to Cody Allenin the eighth. Hosmer lead off the inning with what looked like an easy groundout to Allen, only to have the Indians reliever throw the ball over the head of Mark Reynolds down the right field line.
Hosmer advanced to third on the play and scored one batter later on a RBI single by Salvador Perez.
The night itself would still belong to the Tribe, as Kansas City replaced Santana with the hard throwing Alex Herreraand the right-hander struggled. Surrendering three runs in the inning, Herrera first gave up an RBI base hit to Bourn before Royals manager Ned Yost went to left-hander Tim Collins to face Jason Kipnis.
“I wouldn’t use the word happy, but I have more at bats against Collins than I did Herrera so I knew what he was trying to do,” Kipnis said. “So it was finally time to swing the bat and get it off my shoulder the last two days.”
With runners on first and second, Kipnis laced a RBI double down the left field line to tie the game up at three. Collins intentionally walked Santana before Michael Brantley hit what would be the game winning sacrifice fly, giving his team their first lead of the game at 4-3.
“It’s just something we preach in the dugout, we’re not done until our last out,” Brantley said. “We’re always going to battle. We have a great group of guys in this locker room.”
Vinnie Pestano came on to close out the ballgame in the ninth, but it would not be easy. The interim Tribe closer allowed hits to the first two Royals hitters before striking out Chris Getz for the first out in the inning.
Then, a little luck came Cleveland’s way coutesy of Kansas City outfielder David Lough and third base coach Eddie Rodriguez. Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar hit what looked like an RBI hit to Drew Stubbs in right field. Stubbs threw the ball home only to have Lough stuck between home plate and third base after being held up by Rodriguez on the play.
Pestano tagged out Mike Moustakas on the play trying to advance to third, leaving the Royals with one final chance to score with two outs and with runners on second and third.
“Knowing the rules and having that play happen, luckly I had about seven guys shouting at me about what to do and tag Moustakas,” Pestano said.
The Indians closer escaped trouble, getting Hosmer to groundout to Kipnis to notch his second save filling in for the injured Chris Perez.
“These guys just battled and battled,” Pestano said. “I was fired up to get in there and lock down the save. At the end of the day no runs were scored and we got the W.”
The win also evens up the three-game series between the Tribe and Royals at one game apiece.
“It’s going to be a good rubber match tomorrow,” Kipnis said. “They have a good team over there so we know they will be there in the long run. I like the team we have over here too, so this is going to be a team we’re going to have some big games like this for the next couple years.”
For one night though, the Indians will take the much needed victory even with a little luck that finally seemed to fall their way.
“There’s been some stuff that happened this year that’s been kind of uncommon,” Pestano said. “Ball drops behind the shortstop in Boston cost me a couple runs. The foul ball the other night too. That’s still the game of baseball, but it’s even tonight. For whatever reason the guy got held up at third base and it was the difference, so tonight I would rather be lucky than good.”
Francona also thought about taking some of that same luck from the field to the tables after the game.
“I might go to the casino tonight in full uni and bet on blue,” Francona said. “If you see me over there in full uni, that’s me.”
Notes: In order to recall Lonnie Chisenhall from Triple-A Columbus, the Tribe sent reliever Matt Langwell back down to the Clippers. In four games, Langwell gave up one run in 4 1/3 innings in his first ever big league stint….Closer Chris Perez made his second rehab outing in Double-A Akron and it wasn’t pretty. Perez yielded five runs on five hits in just one inning of work, as the right-hander allowed three home runs and struck out two….Cleveland is an unbeaten 4-0 the last four years on Sandy Alomar Jr.’s birthday. The former All-Star catcher celebrated his 47th birthday on Tuesday.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.