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Sloppy defense dooms Tribe against Royals

Mistakes were made

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

Shockingly, a lineup featuring Mike Freeman, Sandy León, and Delino DeShields put up a decent amount of runs, probably enough to win had the Tribe not made critical mistakes in the field and on the mound. The Kansas City Royals were able to capitalize, snapping their seven-game losing streak with a 8-6 come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The Indians held a 3-0 lead after the second inning and a 5-3 advantage after the third, but the Tribe squandered both. The wheels came off the wagon in the eighth inning, when Adam Cimber and Óliver Pérez combined to surrender three hits, one walk, one hit batter (with the bases loaded), one sac fly, and two runs (including the go-ahead score). I mean, when the Indians have to bring in Adam Plutko to put out the fire, something has gone wrong.

Fortune seemed to favor the Tribe early, as utility man Mike Freeman — starting in place of José Ramírez, who is resting a bruised thumb — got things started in the first inning with a one-out double before scoring on a Carlos Santana homer. Then Sandy León of all people added on with a solo shot in the second. Even when the Royals were able to erase that three-run lead, Francisco Lindor delivered a two-run shot to put the Tribe back on top in the third inning.

But the Indians’ bats went quiet from there, even as Triston McKenzie worked around a rough third inning to keep the Royals’ bats at bay. The rookie allowed three hits and three earned runs over five innings of work, striking out seven. He seemed to have a difference of opinion with León in the third inning, prompting a mound visit that led to a game-tying three-run blast on the very next pitch.

Sloppy defense underscored all of the Royals’ early scoring opportunities. In the third inning, Delino DeShields misread a weak fly to center and then slipped and fell, allowing Nicky Lopez’s ball to drop in for a bloop single that he managed to convert into a one-out double thanks to some aggressive baserunning. Triston McKenzie walked the next batter and then surrendered a three-run bomb on a change-up to Whit Merrifield to tie the game at 3-3.

In the seventh, Francisco Lindor was shifted to the right side of the infield when he tried to awkwardly field a sharp grounder from Alex Gordon, sending a soft toss to first base that Carlos Santana could not corral. The next batter, Cal Quantrill fielded a chopper to the mound but threw high to second, where Lindor was able to stretch for the out but could not turn the double play. Edward Olivares singled to right center to put runners on first and third, before Nicky Lopez grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice to the cut the Indians’ lead to 5-4. That is when Cam Gallagher turned on a slider and drove it into the corner in left field, allowing Lopez to score the tying run from first base while Josh Naylor lumbered to retrieve the ball.

The Royals retired 11 straight batters before Tyler Naquin’s one-out single in the ninth. Franmil Reyes was a non-factor, going 0-for-4 at the plate. And James Karinchak was the only Indians reliever who took care of business, needing only nine pitches for a scoreless sixth inning.

If you’re looking for a silver lining: Terry Francona was able to make it to Progressive Field to watch the first couple innings, and SportsTime Ohio’s Andre Knott reported that Tito is feeling better and making progress in his recovery from surgeries related to gastrointestinal issues.