The Cleveland Indians pulled off a tight win last night against the Central Division leading Kansas City Royals. It took extra frames to get it done, but the Tribe was able to mark a “W” on the calendar. If you have paid attention to the Royals this past week, you know that no lead is safe. Just ask the Minnesota Twins who saw Kansas City’s Alex Gordon crush a walk-off 2-run shot in the bottom of the 9th for a comeback victory on Tuesday night followed by another 1-0 lead that got trampled by a 6-run 8th inning for the Royals on Wednesday night.
The Cleveland Indians came into this series trailing the Royals by 5.5 games. Danny Salazar and the Tribe bullpen allowed only 1 run in a 6-1 victory on Friday night to bring the Indians within 4.5 games. Trevor Bauer started Saturday’s game and fueled the momentum needed to keep Kansas City from scoring until 1 run crossed the plate in the 8th inning. At the end of 9, the score was knotted up at 1 apiece. Cleveland rallied in the top of the 11th to take a slim 3-1 lead. As the 11th turned towards the bottom half inning, Kauffman Stadium felt a sense of playoff baseball for the first time this late in the season since the 1980s.
With 2 outs, after a Salvador Perez RBI double to bring the Royals within 1 run, Erik Krats teed-off on Josh Tomlin’s next pitch. As the ball sailed down the left field foul line, the 35,000+ in attendance tried to will the ball fair but to no avail. Meanwhile Tribe fans at Townhall Urban Café in Ohio City all sighed with relief simultaneously as the ball landed in the seats just left of the foul pole. Krats was just a tad out in front. Cleveland’s catcher Yan Gomes decided that was too close for comfort and took a trip to the mound to calm Tomlin down. Tomlin re-gathered himself and battled back. After an intense 8 pitch fight, Tomlin’s 9th pitch skimmed the lower inside corner of the plate and put the nail in the coffin.
Cleveland now sits at 70-64. They enter Sunday night trailing only by 3.5 games, with a 3 game win streak, and an opportunity to showcase their talent on national television on ESPN2’s Sunday Night Baseball. You can try to tell me that the playoffs do not start until October, but I beg to differ. Last year at this time, the Tribe entered the month of September at 71-64 and just reached the playoffs by the skin of their teeth with a 10 game winning streak. So the Indians know what it takes to play with a do-or-die attitude.
T.J. House takes the mound for Cleveland tonight against Kansas City’s left-handed hurler Danny Duffy. Cleveland is attempting to earn franchise victory No. 9,002. House had eight consecutive starts in which he gave up only three runs or less but struggled against Chicago in his last attempt giving up 5 runs in just 4 2/3 innings. Duffy’s 8-11 record is deceiving because he has a 2.47 ERA with 107 strikeouts in 134.2 innings pitched. Try not to speak to soon, but if the Indians can do what seemed unthinkable and sweep the Royals, they will trail Detroit and Kansas City by only 2.5 games. The Tribe then welcomes the Tigers to a 4 game set in Cleveland beginning Labor Day. Start growing that Rally-stache- It’s going to be a fun September! #TribeTown