After Josh Tomlin set Kansas City down in the top of the first tonight, the Indians immediately put a rally together in the bottom half.
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.
Austin Kearns was retired for the second out of the inning, but Jack Hannahan, picking up where he left off last night, came through with an RBI single to center, making it 5-0 Indians.
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.
But Jeff Francoeur led off the Royals’ second with a homer to left on a full-count pitch, putting Kansas City on the board. Then, with one out, Mike Aviles went deep, and suddenly it was 5-2.
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.