You gotta love September baseball. Actually, you don’t really have to love it. As a matter of fact, you aren’t even obligated to like it if your team isn’t in some sort of contention. That’s not the case for the Indians, though, as they edged out the Royals 4-3 on Monday night and pulled themselves to within 1.5 games of the idle Tampa Bay Rays for the second and final AL Wild Card spot.
Led by an exceptional effort by Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians were able to hold the Royals in check for the majority of the night. Over the course of his seven innings of work, Jimenez allowed only one run to cross the plate on seven scattered hits while striking out seven Royals. In a crazy turn of events, Jimenez did not allow a single walk on the night.
Meanwhile, Ervin Santana also turned in a respectable effort in seven innings. He allowed four runs to cross the plate, only three of which were earned, and put the Royals in a position to be able to win the game late. It didn’t work out, but it was yet another stellar outing from Santana.
The Indians scored the bulk of their runs via the long ball. They hit three on the night, all of them of the solo variety. The first came in the second inning off of the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera to put the Tribe up 1-0. The Indians would hit their second homer in the bottom of the fifth. This time it was Yan Gomes who drilled a line drive out to the seats in right field. Finally, Carlos Santana made it a 4-1 game in the bottom of the seventh when he drilled the foul pole in right for his 18th of the season.
However, perhaps the most exciting run of the night was scored thanks to the speed of Jose Ramirez. Starting at third base, the speedy Ramirez was on first in the bottom of the third when Drew Stubbs hit a ground ball to third. Ramirez , who was running on the play broke for third as soon as Mike Mustakas threw to first. Eric Hosmer rushed his ill-advised throw which ended up ricocheting into left field, allowing Ramirez to come around to score easily. It was exciting and a sample of what Ramirez could bring to the table in the future.
The Royals would cut the Indians’ lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth when Alex Gordon too Cody Allen deep to right field. The two run shot was Gordon’s 18th of the season and put the Cleveland faithful on the edge of their seats. It got even worse in the following inning when Terry Francona signaled for his closer, Chris Perez.
In the top of the ninth the Royals would threaten but the Indians would not break. After a lead off single and a walk, the Royals would successfully sacrifice the tying and go ahead runs into scoring position with one out. Perez would not falter, however. Rather, he bared down and struck out Carlos Pena and then got Alex Gordon to fly out to end the game.