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Behind four solo home runs and a strong performance from Fausto Carmona, the Tribe won their tenth straight game at Progressive Field tonight with an 8-2 win over the tumbling Kansas City Royals, who have now lost six games in a row.
With their fourth three-game sweep of the season — and with the Mariners’ sweep of the Tigers in Detroit — Cleveland now leads the Central Division by 4 1/2 games as the Tribe prepares for a three-game weekend set at home against Detroit, which remains tied for second with the Royals at 12-13.
The Indians, who have not lost at home since April 2, are now 16-8 and own the best record in the American League.
Things started right off for Cleveland again tonight, as — with two outs in the bottom of the first — Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana went deep back-to-back to give The Good Guys a quick 2-0 lead over Kyle Davies (1-3, 7.98 ERA). The home runs were Choo’s fourth and Santana’s third of the season.
Grady Sizemore hit his fourth homer leading off the third to make it 3-0, and then the Tribe busted the game wide open in the fourth inning.
Shelley Duncan — starting when Travis Hafner sat out with a swollen ankle — led off the fourth with his first round-tripper of the season. With one out and two on later in the inning, Jack Hannahan drilled a two-run double, scoring Orlando Cabrera and Michael Brantley, and Sizemore followed with a double to make it 7-0. Still with only one out, Asdrubal Cabrera doubled in Sizemore, giving the Tribe their eighth — and final — run of the night.
That was all for Davies, who went only 3 1/3 innings and surrendered eight runs on nine hits, walking one and fanning four.
The Royals’ bullpen did a decent job, once the barn door was finally closed, going 4 2/3 scoreless frames, but Carmona had all that he needed.
Carmona worked out of a jam in the third, when Kansas City put runners on second and third with only one out, and kept the Royals off the board until the seventh inning. In his final frame of work, Wilson Betemit drove in the only K.C. runs of the night with a two-run double, but that was all the noise the Royals would make in this one.
Carmona (2-3, 5.15 ERA) ended up going seven innings, giving up only five hits and the two runs. Fausto walked two and fanned a pair.
The Indians — who outscored Kansas City 24-8 in the sweep — are scheduled to send Jeanmar Gomez tomorrow night at 7:05 against the Tigers Max Scherzer, who is undefeated in 2011, sporting a 4-0 record.
Rafael Perez came on for the Indians to start the seventh, ending Josh Tomlin’s night after six innings and two runs and five hits surrendered. Tomlin fanned three and walked only one, leaving his ERA at 2.45.
Perez walked Brayan Pena with one out. but no further damage was done.
Frankly, it was nice to see an easy inning for the Indians’ bullpen against the pesky Royals.
Kansas City closer Joakim Soria came on in the bottom of the seventh, no doubt to get some work in, with the Royals having lost four straight and not having given Soria an opportunity to appear in a game since last Tuesday against the Tribe.
Raffy Perez got the first two in the eighth — keeping his ERA at 0.00 for the season — and was lifted in favor of Joe Smith. Perez has now pitched 7 2/3 innings this year, surrendering only three hits.
But Smith was able to get Wilson Betemit on strikes looking to end the threat, and the Indians were one inning from moving to 15-8 on the season.
Jeremy Jeffress replaced Soria to begin the Cleveland eighth, and set the Tribe down one-two-three.
The Tribe called on Chad Durbin to try to close the game out. Durbin, with a 7.56 ERA and a five-run lead, could really use an easy inning, to — if nothing else — boost his confidence, and the confidence of the coaching staff to use him in a closer game.
Josh Tomlin gets the win to move to 4-0, and is only a bullpen letdown last week from being 5-0 along with Justin Masterson. The loss goes to Jeff Francis, who slips to 0-3 on the season.
With the victory, Cleveland moves back to seven games over .500 and sends Kansas City to 12-12 by dealing the Royals their fifth straight loss. And with Detroit about to lose again to Seattle, the Indians will find their lead in the Central Division increased to a season-high three and-a-half games when they wake up tomorrow.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, Wilson Betemit singled and took second on an error by left-fielder Austin Kearns, but Josh Tomlin got Mike Aviles — who had homered in his prior at bat — to ground out, ending the inning with no damage done to the Indians.
Shin-Soo Choo doubled leading off the Cleveland fourth, ending Jeff Francis’s night. Kansas City brought in Nathan Adcock after Francis had allowed, and, thus far, six runs — five earned — with Choo being Francis’s responsibility.
Shelly Duncan struck out, being retired for the first time tonight and failing to move the runner to third. Travis Hafner also fanned on a called third strike, and Orlando Cabrera lined out to second, as the leadoff double went for nought, and leaving the Indians still leading 6-2.
Quite a job by Adcock.
Alcides Escobar singled with one out in the Kansas City fifth, and Jarrod Dyson singled in the infield, moving Escobar to second. Melky Cabrera flied out to center for a big second out, and Tomlin got Alex Gordon for out number three after another protracted battle at the plate on a liner to right, making this an official game.
The Indians went in order in the bottom of the fifth, making it six straight hitters retired by Adcock in only his fourth career game.
Not to be outdone, Tomlin retired Kansas City in order in the sixth, striking out Jeff Francoeur and Betemit to end the inning. Tomlin was up to 100 pitches, so it was likely that his night was done. And although Tomlin surrendered those two homers in the second, it was another outstanding job.
Grady Sizemore doubled leading off the Tribe sixth — giving every Indian at least one hit on the night. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded to second, moving Sizemore to third with only one down, and Shin-Soo Choo was walked intentionally, setting up the double-play with Shelley Duncan due up.
The strategy backfired when catcher Brayan Pena let a pitch get by for a passed ball, allowing Sizemore to score, making it 7-2, and sending Choo to second. Choo then amped up the pressure, stealing third, but Duncan struck out for the second out. and Hafner flied out, ending the inning with a five-run lead restored.
With one out, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Shelley Duncan (batting cleanup while Carlos Santana was given at least the start off) all singled, and Travis Hafner fought off a 1-2 pitch from left-hander Jeff Francis for an RBI single to left center, scoring Cabrera with the first run of the game and leaving the bases loaded with one out.
Orlando Cabrera then delivered, clearing the bases with a double to left-center which gave the Tribe a 4-0 lead after only six batters.
Lou Marson, catching tonight, then delivered the Indians’ seventh hit of the inning, a single which sent Hannahan to third.
Finally, on Francis’s 39th pitch of the inning, Grady Sizemore was retired for the second time in the frame, but the Tribe had a major jump start in this one.
Being ahead by five runs calls for throwing strikes, yes — but they have to be quality strikes, or a lead can begin to evaporate quickly.
Tomlin got the final two Royals to end the inning, leaving your writer wondering, with wild weather in this part of the country, if perhaps the wind is howling out tonight at Progressive Field.
Choo was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the second, and then Duncan, relishing his role tonight in the 4-hole, doubled to shallow left, sending Choo to third.
Hafner sent a fly ball to the outfield, but not deep enough to drive in the run, as Choo held at third. Orlando Cabrera then flied out, and Francis had escaped and kept Kansas City’s deficit at three runs heading to the third, in a game which was now already almost an hour old.
Tomlin gave the Indians just what they needed in the top of the third, setting the Royals down in order — although not without a nine-pitch at-bat by Gordon — and Cleveland went back on offense.
Kearns led off the Tribe third with a single, and Hannahan reached on an error by Gordon, with Kearns taking third.
Marson promptly lifted a sacrifice fly to right, increasing the Cleveland lead to 6-2. Sizemore struck out for the second out — making the run, and any subsequent runs off of Francis unearned in the inning — and Hannahan stole second for Asdrubal Cabrera. But Cabrera grounded out, leaving the margin at four heading to the fourth inning.
The Indians, after breaking their three-game losing streak in resounding fashion last night — belting five homers on their way to a 9-4 victory over the Royals — will try to make it two straight over Kansas City and win their ninth game in a row at Progressive Field tonight at 7:05.
Cleveland begins the day with their largest lead in the Central Division of the season, at two and-a-half games over the Royals and the Detroit Tigers, and will look to Josh Tomlin to pitch as he has all season to try to improve to 15-8.
Tomlin, who left last Thursday’s game against Kansas City in the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead, only to see the bullpen give away both the lead and the game, is seeking to go 4-0. In four previous starts this year, Tomlin is 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA. In 27 innings, he has given up only seven runs on 17 hits, walking seven and fanning fifteen. Tomlin has allowed three home runs.
Against Kansas City, Tomlin is 2-1 in his career, with an ERA of 4.44. In 26 1/3 frames versus the Royals, Tomlin has allowed 13 earned runs and has surrendered two homers — both to Wilson Betemit.
The Royals will send Jeff Francis (0-2, 4.06 ERA) for his third career start against the Tribe. Francis — in this his first season in the American League after spending six seasons with the Colorado Rockies — has gone 1-1 versus Cleveland. In 11 2/3 innings Francis has allowed eight earned runs on thirteen hits, for an ERA of 6.17 against The Good Guys.
In Francis’s five appearances this season, covering 31 innings, he has allowed 36 hits and 14 earned runs, along with four homers. Francis has walked only four while striking out 16.
In his last game, last Friday in Texas, Francis lasted only four innings, giving up nine hits, five earned runs and two long-balls.
Kansas City has dropped four in a row on their current road trip to fall into their tie for second.
This three-game series will conclude on Thursday night at 7:05, when the Indians will hopefully be looking for a double-digit home winning streak.
The seventh inning began with a walk to Kila Ka’aihue, immediately putting the tying run on base off of Justin Masterson. But Alcides Escobar was called out on strikes for Masterson’s seventh K of the evening.
Could Sipp bounce back from a couple of less-than-stellar performances last week and get back to doing what a set-up man is supposed to do?
After going to 3-2 on Chris Getz, Sipp came through with a swinging strikeout, ending the threat and allowing the Tribe to hold onto their razor-thin lead.
Hannahan “only” singled leading off — making him 3-for-3 in the game — before Grady Sizemore fanned, But Asdrubal Cabrera singled, moving Hannahan to second, and that was all for Hochevar, who was replaced by Louis Coleman, who made his major league debut last week against the Tribe.
And then Shin-Soo Choo gave the Indians a four-run lead with a blast to right-center, the Indians’ fourth homer of the evening, and one that gave the Tribe breathing room. Choo’s run represented the first run given up in Coleman’s career.
Coleman got the last two outs, but the damage had been done and the Indians went to the eighth with a 7-3 lead.
Unfortunately, Sipp began the eighth by allowing a single to Mike Aviles and walked Melky Cabrera, putting the Royals in business. Kansas City then pulled a double-steal, putting two men in scoring position, still with nobody out. and Alex Gordon walked, loading the bases.
The thought occurred: “How much trouble is Manny Acta willing to let a pitcher get into with only a four-run lead?”
Apparently not any more than Sipp already had, as Vinnie Pestano was called upon to face the cauldron of base-runners, as Sipp had yet another poor outing after beginning the season so strongly.
Pestano completed his remarkable escape job by getting Ka’aihue to pop out.
Ten pitches. Three outs. Unbelievable job of defusing the Royals’ rally.
Tim Collins came on for Kansas City in the bottom of the eighth. And Grady Sizemore welcomed Collins to the game rudely with two outs.
With Matt LaPorta aboard, Sizemore hit his third homer of the season — the Indians’ fifth long-ball of the night — and Cleveland went to the ninth with a 9-3 lead, after collecting 13 hits, led by Hannahan and Sizemore with three each.
Talk about an offensive revival after scoring only eight runs in their last three games!
Chris Perez came on in the ninth, in what was obviously not a save situation. But it was an important appearance regardless, after Kansas City beat Perez last Thursday in the ninth.
Chris Perez allowed a one-out single to Treanor, and then issued a four-pitch walk to Getz.
Chris, you have a six-run lead. Throw strikes.
Perez settled down and got Aviles to strike out for the second out, but then Melky Cabrera drove in Treanor with a double that moved Getz to third.
The game finally ended on a line-shot to right field, thankfully straight at Choo, and the Indians had moved to 14-8, and increased their lead in the Central to two and-a-half games over the Royals and Detroit, which lost 7-3 tonight to Seattle.
The winning pitcher was Justin Masterson (5-0, 2.18 ERA), who went 6 2/3 frames and surrendered three runs on five hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts, and although there was no save situation, you have to give Vinnie Pestano an unofficial save for what he did in the eighth inning. No pitching could have been more clutch than Pestano’s tonight.
For the second time in a week, Luke Hochevar (2-3, 5.68 ERA) took the loss against Cleveland, surrendering six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
When Grady Sizemore doubled in the first inning, he became the first player in Indians' history with 200 doubles, 100 homers and 100 steals.
After retiring the first ten Royals of tonight’s game, Justin Masterson gave up his first base-runner — and first hit — with one out in the fourth inning on a Melky Cabrera single to center. Alex Gordon immediately followed with a double, and just like that, Kansas City had cut the Indians’ lead to 2-1. Then Billy Butler followed suit with a double of his own, and the game was tied at 2-2.
It was an odd and unsettling mirror image of what happened to Luke Hochevar in last Wednesday’s game in Kansas City, when Hochevar unraveled after finally allowing a hit.
Jeff Francoeur followed with a single — Kansas City’s fourth straight hit — to put runners on the corners, and still with only one out. But Masterson induced a double-play grounder from Kila Ka’aihue to keep it a tie game.
A big, big pitch with a runner at third and less than two outs.
The double play immediately became a crucial lapse when Travis Hafner doubled. Had there still been at least one man on, the double might well have put the Tribe back on top. But when Orlando Cabrera grounded out, the two-hit inning resulted in no runs, and the game moved to the fifth.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Matt LaPorta hit the Tribe’s second homer of the night — on a blast to left field, LaPorta’s third of the season — and Cleveland was back on top 3-2. Then Jack Hannahan — not to be outdone — hit his second jack of the night, and fourth of the season, to right, and the Tribe was once again ahead by a pair at 4-2.
Then Grady Sizemore doubled, as the wheels began to come off for Hochevar an inning sooner than they came off last week. Asdrubal Cabrera walked, putting two on for Choo, who grounded into a force at second, sending Sizemore to third.
The good news for Santana as he came to the plate was that there were two outs, so he would be spared the indignity of possibly hitting into three straight double plays.
Choo stole second, taking away the force at second, but after an eight-pitch at-bat, Santana struck out to end the inning.
Talk about your bad night at the plate.
Melky Cabrera, the villain last Thursday, hit a homer leading off the sixth to draw Kansas City within 4-3, for the fourth home run of the game and the first for the Royals. But Masterson bore down and retired the next three, and the Indians retained the lead heading to their half of the sixth.
Masterson had thrown 87 pitches through six innings, making it likely that he would at least start the seventh, no matter what the score.
Michael Brantley singled with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but this time LaPorta was retired on a fly ball, and to the seventh we went.
The Indians, who were held to no hits through the first five innings against Luke Hochevar last Wednesday in Kansas City, wasted little time making sure there would be no repetition tonight against Hochevar — little time, as in, leadoff hitter Grady Sizemore doubled to right, Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a single to right, and Shin-Soo Choo’s fielder’s choice grounder got in a quick run, giving the Tribe an immediate lead after Justin Masterson set the Royals down in order in the top of the first.
Carlos Santana ended the initial frame by hitting into a double play, but at least Cleveland had drawn first blood.
Both teams were retired in order in the second inning, and in the third, Masterson completed a perfect first trip through the Royals’ batting order. Masterson had three strikeouts to this point, and had made it through three frames in 38 pitches.
In the bottom of the third, with one out, Jack Hannahan belted his third homer of the year to right-center, and the Indians had doubled their lead to 2-0. Sizemore was then hit by a pitch — but, as the HBP came with two strikes on Sizemore, it is unlikely that it was retaliation for the Hannahan homer.
Sizemore was caught trying to steal second, for out number two, and Hochevar got out of the inning without further damage.
When last the Indians saw the Kansas City Royals, the two clubs were finishing a split of their four-game series in Missouri with the Royals coming from behind in the ninth inning and winning 3-2, last Thursday.
Since then, the Tribe has dropped two more in Minnesota, while Kansas City went to Texas and was swept by the Rangers over the weekend, giving both clubs a three-game losing streak.
The Indians still lead the Central Division by a game and a half, but the Royals no longer hold sole possession of second place, as the Detroit Tigers have caught Kansas City at 12-10.
Tonight at Progressive Field, the Tribe and Royals play the first of three games, with game-time at 7:05. Something has to give and one of these teams will end a losing streak, while the other will feel the screws tightening even more.
Justin Masterson will go for win number five on the season tonight in a rematch of his start last week against Kansas City's Luke Hochevar (2-2, 5.12 ERA). In that game, which ended up being a 7-5 Cleveland victory, Masterson gave up two runs in the first inning but then shut the Royals down through the rest of his six innings. The control was a little spotty, as Masterson gave up five walks to go with six hits, but Masterson kept the Tribe in the game until the offense woke up.
On the season Masterson is 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA.
Hochevar was untouchable in five innings in that start last Wednesday, but the wheels came off in the sixth, and Hochevar's line for the game showed six runs surrendered in six innings of work; he gave up only five hits and three walks while striking out four, but -- after retiring the first 15 Indians -- Hochevar crumbled once Cleveland got it going.
The Royals are hitting a pretty healthy .269 as a team. leaving them fourth in the majors in batting. Wilson Betemit comes in to this series batting .364, with Alex Gordon not far behind at .356. Jeff Francoeur leads Kansas City with four homers and 18 RBI.
The Indians, meanwhile, are hitting .263, led by Travis Hafner at .348 in players with over 30 at-bats on the season. Hafner and Asdrubal Cabrera share the team lead with four long-balls, and Asdrubal has been the top run-producer for the Tribe with 14 RBI.
The series will continue after tonight's game with 7:05 games on Wednesday and Thursday before the Tigers come to town for a three-game set over the weekend.
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