Indians Fall 3-2 in Kansas City
Late rally fails to secure win
KANSAS CITY - For once, it wasn't about the rotation.
Tonight's loss cannot be laid squarely at the feet of Scott Kazmir, who picked up the tough-luck loss for nothing worse than a bad start to the second inning. Kazmir started the inning by walking Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur and subsequently giving up a two-run home run to right field by catcher Salvador Perez. While Kazmir may not have dominated the mound a la Justin Masterson or Zach McAllister, he did manage to not surrender any more runs.
While the bullpen allowed the winning run to score (charged to Nick Hagadone) in the seventh, they were not the issue either, allowing only that lone run in four innings of work.
No, tonight's loss rests entirely on an anemic offensive performance. While the offense picked up nine hits, clutch hitting was in short supply as the Tribe was held scoreless through the first eight innings of the game. In the ninth, the Wahoos took advantage of a Mark Reynolds infield single and a Eric Hosmer fielding error, which allowed Lonnie Chisenhall to safely reach base, to set the plate for a line drive two-RBI triple to right by Michael Brantley.
The rally was short-circuited on the very next plate appearance, however, as Jason Kipnis struck out swinging and failed to realize that Perez was unable control the ball. This meant that instead of making a run for first, which could have put the go-ahead run on base, he stayed at the plate and was tagged out for a game-ending K-2.
While the offense has had some huge nights (including 13 and 19-run performances), they have also shown a propensity to have some bad nights when they can least afford them. Eight of the Indians' twelve losses this season have involved two-run or worse outing from the Tribe hitters. While getting Michael Bourn back in the lineup will certainly help matters by shoring up the top of the order, there are others who need to step up. Most notably the sub-mendoza line middle infoeld pairing of Jason Kipnis (.170) and Asdrubal Cabrera (.156).
The Indians continue their roadtrip and four-game series in Kansas City with games two and three tomorrow in the form of a day-night doubleheader. Righty ace Justin Masterson (4-1, 1.85 ERA) will take the mound in the first game for the Tribe against Royals lefty (and ex-Wahoo) RHP Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.86 ERA). First pitch is at 2:10 PM EDT. The night cap (8:10 PM EDT) will see the Indians send out RHP Corey Kluber (1-0, 1.80) against Royals LHP Will Smith (not the actor/rapper), who will be called up from the Omaha Storm Chasers under the "26th man" rule for doubleheaders. No word as to who the Indians will be calling up as their 26th man. Both games will air on radio on both WTAM and 1100 and WMMS 100.7 FM while only the 2:10 game will air on Sportstime Ohio as the 8:10 game coincides with the national (and Rangers home games)-exclusive window for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.
A win is badly needed. A sweep would be a huge shot in the arm for a team needing a consistently solid stretch of play to get back into contention in the not-particularly-strong AL Central. It's there for the winning, the Tribe just need to take it.