Game 104: Royals 7, Indians 5
Tribe falls to 51-53
If you're still not convinced that momentum in baseball is almost entirely a mirage, look no further than the Indians' recent results. The won 8 of their last 12 games before the All-Star break, getting back to .500, then won their first 3 games after the break, against the first-place Tigers, getting as close to the top of the AL Central as they'd been in weeks, with their best record of the season. After another defeat tonight though, the Tribe has now lost 4 in a row and 6 of their last 7. They're basically right back where they were a month ago, only with less time to make up the ground.
What makes Saturday night's loss so tough to swallow is that for a while it looked like it was going to be a big, big win. Carlos Santana led off the 2nd inning with his team-leading 18th home run of the season (don't look now, but he's been the team's best hitter again for more than two months), and then with two outs and the bases empty, the Indians had seven straight hitters reach base safely, and took a 5-0 lead. Even that success was something of a missed opportunity, as they left the bases loaded, but a five-run lead makes it hard to feel too disappointed. That feeling would arrive a bit later.
In the 3rd inning Zach McAllister allowed one run to score (no big deal), and then in the 4th he allowed four more (a bigger deal). After allowing a lead-off single in the 5th, McAllister was pulled, but Nick Hagadone quickly allowed a two-run home run to Billy Butler, and the Indians were behind 7-5. That was Butler's second home run in as many nights, coming off a stretch when he hit two home runs in 72 games. Nothing has brought out Kansas City's limited power this season like facing the Tribe. The Royals have hit an MLB-worst 61 home runs all season, with no more than 7 against any single opponent... except the Indians, whom they've now hit 13 against.
Scott Atchison, Marc Rzepczynski, and Cody Allen each pitched a shutout frame of relief, giving the Tribe time to mount a comeback of its own, but after putting the first two men on base in the 7th and putting another pair on in the 8th, the Indians failed to capitalize.
The series concludes Sunday afternoon, with Danny Salazar set to start for the Indians. A big game from him and a win for the team would salvage something from the weekend, and give the team a 5-6 record on the long road trip. Not a good result, but not a terrible one either. On the other hand, a bad game from him and another loss for the team would mark a new low point of the season.
Win Expectancy Chart:
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