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.
Matt Treanor grounded out, moving Ka’aihue to second with two outs, and Masterson’s night was done, as Tony Sipp came on to try to end the inning with Masterson still in line for the win.
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.
Luke Hochevar came out for the bottom of the seventh, facing Jack Hannahan, who was trying for his third homer of the night.
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 got Billy Butler for a huge first out on an infield-fly-rule pop out, then got another huge out, striking out Jeff Francoeur swinging for out number two.
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.