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Indians hold on in ninth to put away Royals, 5-3

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Francisco Lindor was 3-for-4 and Trevor Bauer threw a lot of pitches in the Cleveland Indians’ series-clinching 5-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The Tribe have now won or split every series in the month of June since dropping three of four against the White Sox back on June 2.

Lindor was the straw that stirred the drink for the Indians, as early as the first inning. He opened the game with a leadoff single and effectively walked to second on a perfectly timed steal that didn’t even merit a throw from Royals catcher Cam Gallagher. Lindor advanced to third on a Carlos Santana bloop single and eventually scored on a sac fly from Jason Kipnis.

Like clockwork, Lindor returned to the plate in the third inning and reached base again with a double to right field. Oscar Mercado followed with an RBI single to score him, extending the Indians’ lead over the Royals to 2-0. Lindor singled again in the fourth inning before Kansas City was able to retire him for the first time in the game in the seventh.

Joining the fun in the fourth inning were Jake Bauers and Tyler Naquin, who each launched solo home runs to give the Tribe a four-run lead. Bauers, who sat the first two games of this series after twisting his ankle fielding fly balls during batting practice, snapped an 0-14 streak at the plate.

Jordan Luplow was kind enough to add an insurance run for the Indians with a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth inning, scoring Jason Kipnis from third.

Bauer grinded through 6.2 innings of work, tallying a season-high 127 pitches but piling up 12 strikeouts, also a season high for the Tribe starter. He relied heavily on his four-seam fastball and the Royals very rarely put the barrel on the ball, occasionally making hard contact with his four-seamer but failing to even put into play many of his off speed pitches.

Bauer cruised through the first four innings for the most part, before surrendering his first hit in a stressful fifth. With two outs, he gave up back-to-back singles before Billy Hamilton dropped an RBI blooper into no man’s land in shallow left field, escaping the reach of both Jake Bauers and Francisco Lindor. But that was all that Kansas City could muster against him.

With Brad Hand needing a physical (and probably mental) break, the Indians called on Nick Goody to hold serve in the seventh and eighth innings before handing the ball to Nick Wittgren in the ninth. It was... eventful. Wittgren struck out Jorge Soler, but then allowed a solo home run to Lucas Duda. Humberto Arteaga followed with a double down the right field line, scoring on an Alex Gordon pinch-hit RBI single to left center. With the score narrowed to 5-3, Wittgren struck out Billy Hamilton and Whit Merrifield to close out the game and let every Tribe fan exhale.

But now the last two games have left me wondering if the Indians need to find an Andrew Miller to complement Hand’s Cody Allen. Something to ponder on tomorrow’s off day.