Tuesday’s was a game full of wasted opportunities for Cleveland—the Indians (9-6) twice loaded the bases with no one out and failed to score—but the Tribe got enough offense to back a great outing from Derek Lowe and hand the Kansas City Royals (3-14) their 12th straight loss in the series opener at Progressive Field.
It didn’t take the Tribe long to score on Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez started the first inning by beaning Jason Kipnis. Asdrubal Cabrera then doubled him to third and Kipnis scored on Carlos Santana‘s sacrifice fly for a quick 1-0 lead. The Indians threatened again in the second as Sanchez issued three straight walks to load the bases with no outs, but he escaped unscathed after Kipnis’ flyout and Cabrera’s double play.
The Royals finally got to Lowe in the fourth. Mike Moustakas reached with a one-out single, then scooted to second on Lowe’s subsequent wild pitch. He moved to third on Humberto Quintero‘s lineout before scoring on Mitch Maier‘s RBI single to tie the game, 1-1. It was the only run Lowe would allow.
The Indians got to Sanchez again in the sixth. Cabrera, Santana, and Travis Hafner all walked to load the bases with one out. Shelley Duncan plated Cabrera with a sacrifice fly before Jack Hannahan came through with a two-run double to score Santana and Hafner. Hannahan’s clutch hit gave the Tribe a 4-1 lead and chased Sanchez from the game. Despite setting up another bases-loaded no-out situation in the eighth, that was all Cleveland could muster.
The Royals got on the board against against Vinnie Pestano in the eighth and against Chris Perez in the ninth, but the late-game rallies were not enough. Kansas City sent the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth but could not complete the comeback as Cleveland held on for a 4-3 win.
The Good: Derek Lowe. The veteran sinkerballer had his best stuff Tuesday night as he held the Royals to just one run on eight hits over six very strong innings. He racked up a season-high five strikeouts while allowing only one walk. Of the 12 other batters he retired, all but one came from grounders or weak pop-ups. It’s clear that he’s put his poor last start behind him.
The Bad: Situational hitting. Tuesday marked the third time in four games that the Indians have reached base 18 times; in those games, they scored four, five, and four runs, respectively. The problem probably won’t last and four runs ended up to be enough, but it’s frustrating to see.
Also, Shin-Soo Choo left the game in the eighth inning with a tight hamstring. Paul Hoynes notes that such injuries usually sideline players for “at least five days,” but manager Manny Acta said the injury is a mild one. Hopefully he won’t be out for too long.
The “Huh?”: Read the box score without context and it would appear as though Jonathan Sanchez’ feud with the Indians continued in earnest. He plunked the first batter he faced Tuesday: Jason Kipnis, who then came around to score. The beaning seemed to be unintentional, and Jack Hannahan was quick to deny any tension between the clubs. Still, what are the odds of Sanchez accidentally hitting the first batter he saw after his beanball cleared the benches the last time he faced the Tribe?
Interesting Tidbit: It’s easy to see why Sanchez is frustrated with the Indians. He has a 5.95 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP in four career starts against Cleveland. That ERA is his second-highest for any team he’s started more than two games against, and the WHIP is the worst.