Jeanmar Gomez couldn’t shut down Kansas City’s bats while the Indians struggled to score as Cleveland (27-23) fell to the Royals (21-28), 6-3, in the rubber match of a thinree-game series Wednesday afternoon.
The Indians got on the board first, stringing a rally against Kansas City starter Bruce Chen in the bottom of the second. After Shelley Duncan and Michael Brantley led off with back-to-back base hits, Casey Kotchman‘s RBI single put the Tribe on top. Brantley scored as Luke Carlin reached on a fielder’s choice before Carlin stole second—you read that right—and came home on Shin-Soo Choo‘s RBI single. By the time Chen recorded the final out Cleveland had gotten out to a 3-0 lead.
It didn’t take the Royals long to strike back. Mike Moustakas‘ RBI double and Jeff Francoeur‘s RBI single put Kansas City on the board in the third. Alex Gordon tied the game with a double in the fourth before Johnny Giavotella put the Royals on top. Kansas City then added insurance runs on Bryan Pena’s single in the fifth and Alex Gordon’s bases-loaded groundout in the eighth.
The Indians were helpless to respond and did not score after the second inning. Bruce Chen lasted just five innings, but Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, and Jose Mijares shut the Tribe down through eight. The Indians brought the winning run to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Jonathan Broxton closed it out for the save as the Royals held on for a 6-3 win.
The Good: Despite their scoring only three runs, the Indians managed to get on base 14 teams (10 hits, four walks). Johnny Damon reached base thrice, going 2-for-3 with a double and a walk, while Michael Brantley also had a multi-hit game and Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Kipnis, and Asdrubal Cabrera all got base hits and drew walks.
Also, while Jeanmar Gomez really struggled, there is at least some solace to be taken in that, with three punchouts and one (intentional) base on balls in five innings, both his strikeout and walk rates went up after his outing Wednesday.
The Bad: As a pitch-to-contact hurler Gomez’ game fully depends on his ability to induce weak contact, and in that respect he clearly struggled Wednesday. He allowed five runs (all earned) on 10 hits—three of which went for extra bases—plus an intentional walk and a hit-by-pitch.
The “Huh?”: What was Luke Carlin doing stealing second base in the second inning? It ended up working out and it allowed him to score on Shin-Soo Choo’s subsequent base hit, but Manny Acta didn’t know the end result at the time. The expected benefit from Carlin’s steal was marginal—it increased the Tribe’s WPA by just 0.7 percent—and it was a substantial risk.
Shelley Duncan also tried to swipe second base with runners at the corners and two outs in the fifth inning. He was predictably thrown out to end a potential rally. Acta needs to stop giving the green light on the basepaths—the way this team is hitting, they cannot afford to be wasting outs.
Interesting Tidbit: Carlin has been a professional baseball player for seven years, yet his swiped bag Wednesday was his first-ever MLB stolen base. It was his first steal at any level since July 26, 2010. Meanwhile, Duncan has attempted more steals in his last five games (three) than he had in his entire career before last week (two).