Indians Salvage Series and Beat Chen, Royals 10-3 in Finale
It can almost be expected when you remember that Ned Yost puts out his “white flag” lineup each and every Sunday. While the season finale loss was frustrating, Royals fans must remember to think about the big picture.
Carlos Santana homered two more times and the Indians finally broke out of their slump, ending the Royals’ five-game winning streak with a 10-3 win on Sunday afternoon. The Indians salvaged the series in what was their first win at Kauffman Stadium all season (1-5).
Things began well enough for Kansas City. Bruce Chen (2-3) opened the game with three no-hit innings, while the Royals scored a run in both the second and third innings. An RBI single by Jarrod Dyson and an Alex Gordon sac fly made the score 2-0, but it was then when the Indians’ bats finally awoke.
Yan Gomes put Cleveland on the board with an RBI single in the fourth inning, but it wasn’t until the fifth when things really got murky for Chen. The southpaw allowed four runs in the frame, topped by Carlos Santana’s two-run home run to right field. With his pitch count at over 100 pitches, Ned Yost sent Chen back to the mound to start the sixth inning, and Ryan Raburn took advantage, crushing a leadoff home run to dead center.
Chen’s day concluded abruptly after giving up his second homer. He allowed six runs on eight hits in five innings, having walked two and hitting an additional batter. The six runs given up by Chen matched a season high, also set back on April 11 in Minnesota.
As for the Royals’ offense, the bats were quiet for the rest of the afternoon, save for a Billy Butler RBI double in the sixth inning. Butler, who was 3-4 on the afternoon, capped off a very successful series. Over the last three games, he has gone 6-9 with 6 RBI and two go-ahead home runs.
With their lead closed to 6-3, Nick Swisher provided another run with an RBI single in the seventh frame. In the ninth, Santana and Gomes went back-to-back to add three additional runs off of Aaron Crow.
Indians starter Danny Salazar (3-4) earned the win after hurling seven innings of solid ball. Yielding the two early runs, Salazar pulled things together to earn his first quality start since May 7. He allowed three runs on seven hits, striking out seven Royals and not walking anyone for the first time in 2014.
The Royals will be off tomorrow and begin a three-game home series with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. James Shields (9-5, 3.58 ERA) will oppose Kyle Gibson (8-8, 4.19). While Shields has been sharp as of late, he has struggled mightily in two starts this year against the Twins, having allowed 12 runs in 10.2 innings. Gipson, who opposed Chen back in the April 11 game, earned the win after giving up one run in 6.1 innings. To this point, it’s his only start against the Royals this year.
Kansas City hopes to have first baseman Eric Hosmer back for the start of the set; Hosmer has been bothered by a hand injury after being hit by a pitch last Sunday in Boston. Considering the spike in Billy Butler’s production as of recently, the controversy over who should start at the DH position should be quieted – for now.
The Royals weren’t going to go 59-0 the rest of the way. Losses are going to happen, and we all knew the winning streak wasn’t going to continue forever. While “how long is the winning streak going to continue” was the question being asked by more fans, the more important one was “how will they respond after the streak ends.” Following the 1o-game winning streak in June, the Royals responded by losing four straight games. If they want to continue their late season playoff push, they need to get back on track and take at least two of three from the lowly Minnesota Twins.
This series, Kansas City showed signs that maybe the “same old Royals” were no more. The next few series will tell us if they really have turned a corner.