Royals stun Indians 10-7 as bullpen gives game away late
A struggling Tribe bullpen gift wraps Kansas City another win
Another explosion of the struggling Indians bullpen were the only fireworks Cleveland would see on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.
Up 5-0 in the bottom half of the sixth, Kansas City Royals outscored the Tribe 10-2 over the final 3 1/3 innings to take the three game series by a score of 10-7.
After winning five straight, Cleveland (45-40) finds themselves on a two-game skid and back in second place just 1 1/2 games behind Detroit for first place in the A.L. Central.
Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 4.67 ERA) looked sharp at the outset, as the right-hander shutdown the Kansas City offense allowing just two hits through the first five innings. His team also gave him an early five run cushion off Royals ace James Shields (3-6, 3.23 ERA).
Drew Stubbs knocked in four runs with a two-run homer in the second inning before coming through on another two-run base hit in the sixth. Finishing the day 2-for-4, it was Stubbs third multi-hit game and eighth RBI over his last six games.
Shields wouldn’t escape the inning, tossing 5 1/3 innings on the afternoon giving up all five runs on nine hits. It was the most runs an American League team scored off the former All-Star all season.
Just as the holiday looked to be a quiet one at Kaufmann Stadium, the Royals offense set off some fireworks in the bottom half of the sixth inning courtesy of the long ball.
Walking the first two hitters to lead off the inning, an error by Jimenez set up a bases loaded, no out jam for Kansas City right fielder Lorenzo Cain. The 27-year-old outfielder took a 3-2 pitch from Jimenez over the center field wall for a grand slam, the Royals second in the series.
Indians manager Terry Francona lifted Jimenez for right-hander Cody Allen. The move didn’t pay off as two pitches later, catcher George Kottaras slugged his third homer of the season going back-to-back with Cain to tie the game up at five.
It was the second homer Allen has given up over the last two games, after serving up the eventual game-winning home run to Eric Hosmer on Wednesday night.
The Cleveland offense would come right back in the seventh, as the team also got their first two on base to start the inning. With two on and no outs, Carlos Santana roped a two-run double down the right field line to put the Tribe back up two at 7-5.
Then, more fireworks struck for K.C. a half inning later, as the debacle of the Indians bullpen continued in the form of Joe Smith. The sidearm specialist gave up yet another leadoff walk to Alcides Escobar before Hosmer broke the hearts of Tribe fans again for the second straight night, tying the ballgame up at seven on a two-run homer.
After the Indians went quietly in the top of the eighth, Francona went to right-hander Bryan Shaw out of the pen, hoping he would bounce back from his rough outing on Wednesday.
Adding fuel to the fire, Shaw served up a leadoff walk to Kottaras before plunking Johnny Giavotella on a 0-2 pitch.
Loading up the bases for the second time with no outs, Matt Albers became the Tribe’s last hope out of the baffling bullpen. Salvador Perez greeted him with a three-run double in the gap as Kansas City scored 10 runs in the final three innings to win the ballgame.
Seven runs on 12 hits proved not enough for the Indians in this one, as the team went just 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position. Michael Brantley finished the afternoon going 4-for-5 with an RBI while Jason Kipnis extended his hitting streak to 15 straight games with a single in the third.
Despite dropping the final two in K.C., the Tribe finishes the road trip above .500 with a 7-4 record. It was the first three-game series the team has lost in almost a month, when the Detroit Tigers swept the Wahoo’s in Motown on June 9.
Speaking of the Motor City Kitties, the Indians will now start a huge four-game series with Detroit at Progressive Field. Tribe ace Justin Masterson (10-6, 3.48 ERA) will toe the rubber in the series opener against Rick Porcello (4-6, 5.21 ERA) Friday at 7:05 p.m. Coming off his third complete game shutout of the season, Masterson will look to stop the two game skid at home where he is 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA in nine starts.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.