Indians head into All Star break on a high note, sweep Royals
Cleveland, OH -- Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run double in the sixth as the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 6-4 Sunday afternoon to earn a sweep.
The Tribe has now won five of their last six games to push their record to 51-44 and trail the Detroit Tigers by 1.5 games in the American League Central Division. Cleveland has its most wins at the All-Star break since 2007--the last time the Indians made the playoffs.
"It's been a great first half for us," Indians first baseman Nick Swishersaid. "We've dealt with a lot of injuries and to be standing where we are right now, we've got to feel great about that."
Cabrera hit a double off Tim Collins (2-5, 4.86) to push the streaking Indians to their fourth straight win. The double scored Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs who had reached earlier in the inning via a walk and single.
After allowing a third base runner in the inning, Collins was pulled in favor of Everett Teaford who surrendered an RBI single to Jason Kipnis. Collins continued to struggle against the Indians, posting a 135.00 ERA in the weekend series.
Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez failed to get through the fifth inning, his shortest start since June 7 and has pitched less than five innings in five of his 19 starts. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits and two walks in four-plus innings of work.
Chen-Chang Lee, Rich Hill (1-1, 6.08), Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, and Chris Perez combined to throw five clutch, scoreless innings as the Indians offense clawed their way back. The bullpen allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out four. Perez picked up his 13th save of the season.
Cleveland scored first in the first inning off Royals starter James Shields, following a recent trend of striking early and often. Michael Bourn and Cabrera hit back-to-back singles to open the inning, putting runners and first and third with no outs. Kipnis followed with a sacrifice fly to left, putting the Tribe up 1-0.
Kansas City came back with two runs of their own in the top of the second, however, as Jimenez failed to hold any lead for long in his four innings. With the bases loaded and one out, Alcides Escobar hit a sacrifice fly to center, tying the game at one and putting runners at first and third with two outs. Leadoff hitter Alex Gordon followed with an RBI single to right to put the Royals up 2-1.
With Kipnis on second and two outs, Michael Brantley singled between first and second to plate Kipnis. Brantley is now hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and two outs on the season. Carlos Santana continued the two-out rally with a double down the first base line, scoring Brantley all the way from first, putting the Indians back on top, 3-2.
In the top of the fourth, however, Jimenez continued to struggle with a lead, allowing two runs to score, putting the Royals back in control with a 4-3 lead.
Jimenez bailed out Shields, who worked with less than his best stuff, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks. Shields pitched just five innings, tying his shortest start of the season.
"I don't feel like I struggled," Shields said. "I threw some really good pitches. That's a good team over there. They work really good at-bats."
The Indians had one more comeback in them against Collins in the sixth to put the home team up 6-4--a lead the bullpen managed to hold for good.
"I was real proud of our guys," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "We kept battling, and because of it we go into the break with a nice win."
After Cabrera's two-run double, Kipnis, one of the Cleveland's All-Stars, provided a key insurance run with his second RBI on the day.
Following the game, Kipnis wanted to assure Cleveland fans that the team was for real, despite some recent struggles against first place Detroit.
"We got the city of Cleveland to step back off the ledge after the Detroit series," said Kipnis. "We wanted to push ourselves. To be able to sweep them and get a couple days off now, that's a great way to end it."
The Indians now head into the All-Star break and will resume their season in Minnesota against the Twins on Friday, July 19 at 8:05 p.m.
Notes: Cleveland's pitchers haven't given up a home run in 60 innings. … The Indians rotation finished the first half with a 34-34 record and 4.42 ERA, ranking in the bottom third of the American League.
Nathan Kemp graduated from The University of Akron in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. He plans to pursue a graduate degree through NEOMFA in the fall. Follow him on Twitter @NathanCKemp.