Royals 9, Indians 4
Indians fall to 35-30
After taking two out of three in Anaheim, the Indians had themselves a three-game lead, the largest among division winners in the American League. They just needed to win one game in Kansas City to return home from their ten-game road trip in first place.
It didn’t happen. They lost the first two games of the series by a single run, and then tonight just everything that could have gone wrong did so, and now find themselves headed back to Cleveland in a tie for first place. And so the Royals paid back the favor visited upon them in Cleveland, sweeping the series and flipping the standings.
Tonight's loss was full of defensive errors and plays that should have been errors. Most of the plays revolved around Michael Martinez, who was playing third because Jose Ramirez desperately needed a night off. In the second inning, with the team already down 2-0, he committed an error to give the Royals runners at second and third (the second error of the inning) but later wasn’t in position to receive a throw on a sacrifice bunt, but starter Corey Kluber got out of the jam.
But when Martinez threw wildly on a play in the fifth inning, Kluber couldn’t limit the damage. But it is unfair to single out Martinez, for there was plenty of defensive blame to go around that inning. The frame was set up when a ball dropped between Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall in the outfield. With the go-ahead runner on third, Yan Gomes let a ball get by him, allowing the Royals to take the lead. After Martinez’s throwing miscue (ruled a base hit by the hometown scorekeeper), Lorenzo Cain broke his bat, dumping the ball into shallow left field. And then Salvador Perez hit a three-run homer, and the game was effectively over.
The frustrating thing about this contest was that the Indians could easily have won this game had they executed the routine play. The Royals didn’t exactly play scintillating baseball either, but they didn’t sequence their mistakes like the Indians did. In this case, the team that played the least bad ended up with the victory.
Dan Otero, who of late has been making a case to pitch in more meaningful situations, had his first poor outing quite a while. Call upon to relieve Kluber in the sixth, he allowed two inherited runs to score and would later be charged with a run of his own.
This was the final game of a rather grueling road trip, a trip that makes you wonder if the schedule makers had a grudge against Cleveland. Four games in Seattle (all at night), then a trip down the coast to LA, then, without an off day in between, a series in the Central Time Zone. After finally getting an off day (the first since May 26th), they have another important division series, this time against the Chicago White Sox.