Royals power past Tribe 7-2, take three-game series
Tribe loses series with Kansas City, still come home with eyes fixed on wild card
Kansas City—Only the Indians caught themselves howling at the full moon above Kaufmann Stadium Wednesday night.
A three run first inning and defensive miscues were too much for the Tribe to overcome, as they fell to the Royals in the rubber match, 7-2. The win gives Kansas City the series victory as they take two out of three against Cleveland for the second time over the last 10 days.
For the third time in the three-game series, it was the Royals offense that struck first at the outset. After getting two outs quick outs in the first inning, Indians rookie Danny Salazar (1-3, 3.09 ERA) allowed a base hit to Eric Hosmer and a walk to Billy Butler to put two runners on for catcher Salvador Perez.
The All-Star made came through in the clutch for K.C. again, taking a 96 MPH four-seam fastball down the left field line for a two-run double, advancing to third on a bad relay throw to the plate by Asdrubal Cabrera.
Two pitches later, the catcher scored on a wild pitch from Salazar to put the Royals up, 3-0. Perez batted .455 (5-for-11) in the three-game series with a double, triple and four RBI.
Salazar did settle in after a rough first, allowing one run on four hits over his next five innings of work, throwing 60 of his 82 pitches for strikes.
Cleveland (80-72) remains a half game in back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second A.L. wild card spot despite the loss, and just 1.5 games behind the Texas Rangers for the top wild card seed.
Like they were in the series opener Monday, the Indians offense fell flat against another Kansas City starter in lefty Bruce Chen (8-3, 3.13 ERA). They did get to the southpaw in the third inning first on a RBI double by Michael Brantley before Michael Bourn cut the deficit to one run with a sacrifice fly.
Then the unthinkable happened in the home half of the fifth. With runners at the corners and one out, Royals Alex Gordon attempted to steal second base. Caught in a rundown, first baseman Nick Swisher fired the ball to neglect shortstop Alcides Escobar from scoring. The double steal availed as Escobar slid past Yan Gomes glove, giving Kansas City another gifted run.
Chen allowed just the two runs on four hits over five innings before the highly regarded Royals bullpen slammed the door on the Indians offense late. The K.C. pen combined for four innings of shutout baseball allowing only one hit to Bourn in the sixth.
Getting their leadoff man on for the first time since the third, it was the sixth inning that was the best opportunity for the Tribe to capitalize and take the lead with runners on second and third with one out.
Just like every opportunity that knocks, it came and quickly passed as Carlos Santana grounded out to third on the first pitch he seen from reliever Francisley Bueno before Royals manager Ned Yost went to his bullpen to matchup against Ryan Raburn.
A key contributor in so many situations this season, Raburn wasn’t able to come through on this night, flying out to right field against Louis Coleman for the final out of the inning.
It was the Royals offense that put the game away late against the Tribe bullpen adding three more runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Going 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position Wednesday, the team went a combined 2-for-11 with RISP in the series. Cleveland also falls to 15-53 when scoring three runs or less, but take the season series with K.C., 10-9.
With wild card hopes still very much alive, the Indians now opens a four-game series with the Houston Astros (51-100) beginning Thursday night at Progressive Field. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9, 3.49 ERA) looks to stay red hot, as he takes the hill for the Wahoo’s in the series opener against Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel (6-9, 5.17 ERA). Jimenez is 5-5 with a 1.83 ERA over his last 10 starts since the All-Star Break.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.