Series Result: Indians lose series to Royals 3-1
Game 1: Kansas City 2 Cleveland 1
Game 2: Kansas City 6 Cleveland 4
Game 3: Kansas City 7 Cleveland 5
Game 4: Cleveland 10 Kansas City 3
En Fuego! In the series, Santana went 9-for-14 with 5 home runs, 8 RBI’s, 5 walks, and 6 runs scored. Santana started the series with a batting average of .215 and ended it with a .232 batting average. If Santana can keep up this pace (unlikely, or at very least can keep hitting) the Indians have a legit #4 hitter.
Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn
If you saw Raburn’s throw on Thursday, then you know why he is here. Swisher on the other hand had a terrible series, going 1-for-18 with 1 RBI (in the last game) and 5 strikeouts. Just you though Swish was back on track he forgets how to baseball again.
Game 1: Kluber loses perfecto, then Tribe loses game
Corey Kluber was at his absolute best, and Ryan Raburn was at his absolute worst. Kluber started the game retiring 19 straight hitters. The first base runner for the Royals was Omar Infante, who single in the bottom of the 7th with one out. This was Kluber’s best start of his career, let alone the season, Kluber’s game line looked like this, 9 innings, 2 hits, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts. Kluber has put himself up with the best starters in all of baseball. Kluber has a WAR of 3.9, which ranks him as the 6th best starting pitcher in the MLB, he is 3rd in innings pitched (149.1), 3rd in strikeouts (162), and 1st in games started (22). Kluber and Michael Brantley have been a two man show for much of the season (it reminds me of 2008, when Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore both had big seasons, but the Indians only finished 81-81). Kluber and Brantley have a combined WAR of 8.2, if we are just speaking strictly numbers, the Indians would have a record of 44-61 if you were to take both of them off the team.
The game started with both pitchers throwing duel no-hitters, until the top of the 5th, when Carlos Santana singled off Danny Duffy to give the Tribe their first hit. With the game still tied at 0-0 in the top of the 8th, the Indians loaded the bases for Michael Brantley. Indians fans knew how this would end, Brantley would somehow drive in the runners. Hwever this would be the omen that signaled only bad things to come, as Brantley grounded into an inning ending double play. Kluber came out to for the bottom of the 8th and got Salvador Perez to pop out. Kluber, having still faced the minimum amount of batters, gave up a looping fly ball down the line to Mike Moustakas, Ryan Raburn came in sliding, trying to make the catch, but the ball ricochet off his wrist and bounced to the wall. This was only the beginning; Raburn then picked up the ball, and spiked the ball about 5 feet in front of him. As it careened back towards the infield, Moustakas came all the way home to score to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. This play was so bad, the Three Stooges could have executed the play better, even Brandon Weeden though it was a terrible throw. This is a play that will forever be shown in the blooper reel. Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhptCuu9bEU (watch at your own risk). Kluber was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.
On came All Star closer Greg Holland to try and end the game for the Royals. It was amazing how quickly the game changed. It went from Corey Kluber throwing a perfect game to a comedy of errors with Raburn. Either way, the Tribe needed to muster a run to extend the game. Carlos Santana led off with a walk, and was then moved over with a Chris Dickerson sac bunt. Nick Swisher grounded out, but was able to move Santana to third. Up came Yan Gomes, who sent the first pitch he saw right back up the middle and tied the game for the Tribe. Kluber came out for the 9th and got three quick outs and is one of the very few pitchers to go 9 innings and not register a complete game. The game would go to the bottom of the 14th inning before the Royals would get the walk-off on a Nori Aoki RBI single. This was easily the worst lost the Tribe suffered all season.
Game 2: Butler’s bomb does in Tribe
Josh Tomlin once again wasn’t able to discover his form and this time it cost him. Even though he didn’t register the loss, he was sent down to Triple-A, will we see again? Not unless another injury occurs or Justin Masterson gets traded. On the night Tomlin went 5 1/3 innings, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits, striking out 5 and walking none, but once again gave up the long balls. This game was going to be tough to win considering the way they lost game 1, but if the Tribe could pull this game out, it could get going again. They would have to face a pitcher who has a knack for shutting down the Indians offense, in Yordano Ventura. The Tribe was able to fare better (well, Carlos Santana fared better), as Ventura went 5 1/3 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits, striking out 7 and walking 1.
The scoring started in the bottom of the 2nd, when Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas (hitting .293 with 6 home runs and 12 RBI’s against the Tribe, hitting .181 with 7 home runs and 28 RBI’s against everyone else) hit back-to-back jacks to give the Royals an early 2-0 lead. In the top of the 4th, the series officially started for Carlos Santana as he hits his 16th home run to cut the lead to 2-1. However, the Tribe gave that run back (and more) when 42 year old Raul Ibanez hit a RBI triple to score two runs to extend the KC lead to 4-1. Carlos Santana struck again in the top of the 6th, with his second home run of the game, and 17th of the season to bring the Tribe within one run of the Royals. In the top of the 7th, Jason Kipnis hit a sac fly to tie the game at 4. Could the Tribe really come back and take this game from KC? Well, the short answer is no. With one on and two out, John Axford replaced Nick Hagadone, and Billy Butler came in to pinch-hit. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Axford hung one and Butler launched the pitch 452 feet to give the Royals a 6-4 lead. Yan Gomes led off the 9th with a double, but the Tribe could muster no more and lost 6-4.
Game 3: Butler’s bomb does in Tribe, again
The Tribe came out swinging the bats in this game, but it all went for naught when Billy Butler struck again. In the top of the 2nd, Carlos Santana led off with his team leading 18th home run. After two straight outs, the offense came together; Yan Gomes singled, then David Murphy walked, Mike Aviles stepped up and delivered with a RBI single. The next batter up was Jason Kipnis, who doubled in 2 runs, Jose Ramirez followed with a single to give the Tribe runners at the corners for Dr. Smooth. Brantley showed why he made the All Star team, and delivered with a RBI double to give the Tribe a 5-0 lead in the second inning. With the early lead, it was all up to Zach McAllister to keep the Royals off the board. Let’s just say he wasn’t able to; McAllister was only able to go 4 innings, giving up 6 runs on 8 hits, striking out 3, and walking 2. Once you get past Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, the rotation is a rotating door. Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, T.J. House, and even Carlos Carrasco have all been in and out of the rotation either due to injury or ineffectiveness. Salazar looks like he has finally rediscovered his form and hopefully Masterson will pitch well after he returns from the DL. If the rotation can provide four solid pitchers, things could go right for the Tribe.
The Royals started chipping away at the Tribe’s lead in the bottom of the 3rd, when, after Alcides Escobar and Nori Aoki led off with back-to-back singles, Omar Infante hit into an RBI groundout to cut the deficit to 5-1. In the bottom of the 4th, the Royals tied the game. The 5 run second inning the Tribe had was all for naught (that’s the second time I have used that word). Fans knew that once the Royals tied the game, that it was basically over. Fans only had to wait one more inning before this belief would come through. Zach McAllister gave up a leadoff single to Salvador Perez, and that ended his night, on came Nick Hagadone, with Billy Butler up at the plate and an 0-1 count Hagadone grooved right in Butler’s wheel house, 453 feet later the Royals had a 7-5 lead. For the second straight night, Billy Butler killed the Tribe. Coming into this series, Butler had 3 home runs on the season; he hit 2 in the series and both went on to be the game winning runs.
Game 4: Santana powers Tribe to avoid series sweep
Danny Salazar made his second start since returning from Columbus, and he looked like the Salazar from last year. Salazar went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, while striking out 7, and walking none. Since returning to the rotation, Salazar is 2-0, in 12 innings, striking out 13, walking 3, with an ERA 3.00. If Salazar continues to pitch like this, it will give the Indians three reliable starting pitchers in Kluber, Bauer, and Salazar. The Royals actually got things going first in this game, scoring a run in both the bottom of the 2nd and the bottom of the 3rd to give them an early 2-0 lead. The Indians got a run back in the top of the 4th, when Yan Gomes (Gomes is now hitting .281 on the season and ranks as the second best catcher in the AL with a WAR of 3.2) singled in run to make it 2-1.
It was in the top of the 5th, when the Indians started their offensive outburst. Asdrubal Cabrera had a RBI single and Michael Brantley had a sac fly to give the Tribe a 3-2 lead. Carlos Santana homered (again), this time it was a 2-run shot to give the Tribe a 5-2 lead. In the top of the 6th, Ryan Raburn tried to make up for Thursday, when he launched a home run to dead center, his 3rd of the season (last year he had 16), to extend the lead to 6-2. The Royals attempted to comeback in the bottom of the 6th, when the suddenly hot Billy Butler, hit a RBI double to make it a 6-3 Tribe lead. In the top of the 7th, Nick Swisher got his only hit of the series, when he singled home Michael Brantley to give the Tribe a 7-3 lead. The Indians weren’t finished, because in the top of the 9th, Carlos Santana struck again with another 2-run home run, his 20th of the season, then Yan Gomes followed in Santana’s footsteps when he launched his 14th homer of the season to give the Tribe a 10-3. That lead would hold and the Indians would avoid the sweep. On an interesting note, the Indians outscored the Royals in the series 20-18, but still lost 3 of the 4 games.
Up Next: The Indians return home for an 8-game home stand, starting with 3 games against the Seattle Mariners
–Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley