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Indians ride five-run third inning past Royals

Jake Bauers and Tyler Naquin both wielded hot bats for the Tribe

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken

History did not repeat itself in a Tuesday night matchup between the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals. The Tribe were able to hold off the Royals late — avoiding another Brad Hand ninth-inning implosion — to secure a 9-5 victory to open the series.

The Indians and the Royals traded runs in the bottom of the second inning and the top of the third, knotting the score at one apiece, before the Tribe blew the game open with five runs in the bottom of the third. It started with back-to-back singles from Tyler Naquin and Francisco Lindor, with Naquin hustling from first to third on Lindor’s base knock to center field. After Oscar Mercado struck out, Carlos Santana walked to load the bases for Jason Kipnis.

Kipnis battled back from an 0-2 count to draw the bases loaded walk, fouling off four pitches in an impressive nine-pitch at-bat. Jose Ramirez fell into an 0-2 count of his own but managed to put the ball in play, grounding into a run-scoring fielder’s choice. With two outs, Jake Bauers found himself in a quick 0-2 hole, evening the count before delivering a two-run double to center field. The finishing touch on the inning was Roberto Perez reaching on a throw to first that Cheslor Cuthbert couldn’t corral, allowing Bauers to score and giving the Indians a 6-1 lead.

Bauers was able to put another run on the board with an RBI single in the fifth, but it nearly wasn’t enough as the Royals clawed their way back into the game late.

Trevor Bauer contributed another rough start to what has been a baffling season for him up to this point. Any sort of consistency continues to elude him. The Royals were making hard contact all night long, putting 10 balls in play with an exit velocity of at least 90 mph or higher. And none of Bauer’s pitches were untouchable. Kansas City managed to put a barrel on his four-seam fastball, slider, change-up, cutter, and knuckle curve at least once. Through six innings of work, Bauer allowed 11 hits and five earned runs, including two home runs, and striking out six.

He nearly imploded in the seventh inning, surrendering three consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs. Clinging to a tenuous 7-3 lead, the Tribe opted to pull Bauer and bring in Oliver Perez, who proceeded to give up a sac fly and a run-scoring single to reduce that lead to 7-5. Perez gave way to Adam Cimber, who needed a nice defensive play by Lindor and a miraculous leaping catch by Oscar Mercado to escape without further damage.

It was an interesting game for Mercado, in general. He was 0-for-5 at the plate, but his night was much more eventful in the outfield. In the first inning, Mercado took a perfect route to an Alex Gordon shot in the gap in left center, throwing Gordon out at second. Later in the game, he bypassed the cutoff man and threw wide of third base, trying to take a triple from Hunter Dozier. But for some reason Dozier kept running and was thrown out at home by Ramirez.

The Indians were able to add a couple insurance runs in the eighth and ninth. Nick Wittgren pitched a scoreless eighth before handing the ball to Brad Hand in the ninth.

Couple of notes:

  • Jake Bauers had himself a game. The Indians’ left fielder was 4-for-5 on the night, with three RBI. Though he did get thrown out at home to end the eighth inning, trying to score from first on a Tyler Naquin double off the wall in center field.
  • Tyler Naquin was also 4-for-5.
  • Bobby Bradley did not have himself a game, going 0-for-3 before being pulled in favor of a pinch hitter. In fact, the learning curve has been steep for the rookie first baseman, who is 3-for-27 since being called up late last month.