This time, the pitching fared better facing a non-Chicago offense.
This is going to be a key stretch of games for the Indians; six at home against the Royals and Twins, and while the middle of the order is injured. Travis Hafner may have to go on the DL, Carlos Santana won't be back in the lineup until at least this Saturday, and Asdrubal Cabrera has a sore hamstring, an injury that could linger longer than the original "day-to-day" diagnosis. So far those injuries haven't really hurt the Indians; offense wasn't the reason the Indians got swept in Chicago, and they came up with eight runs tonight against the Royals.
Before the game, the Indians made a series of moves to get tonight's starter (Josh Tomlin) back on the 25-man roster, but also to put Jack Hannahan on the DL. Hannahan returned to the lineup on Saturday, but during the game injured his left calf, so he'll be out for at least the next two weeks. So the Indians recalled Lonnie Chisenhall to take Hannahan's spot, and Jairo Asencio, who had been awful over the last couple weeks, was Designated for Assignment to make room for Tomlin. After those moves, the Indians started tonight's game with 11 pitchers (6 relievers) and 14 position players on the roster. That configuration won't last long, and the position that gets sent down or DLed will depend on the health of Cabrera and Hafner, both of whom are still on the 25-man roster.
The Royals came to town with one of the worst starting staffs in the AL, but that's not really much of a surprise. What is surprising is that their offense is one of the worst in the AL. Alex Gordon has an 89 OPS+ and Eric Hosmer a 65 OPS+; both of these guys were expected to be a key offensive contributor. So Josh Tomlin, who didn't make a rehab start, had on paper a fairly easy first start back. He only went five innings, giving up four runs, three of which came on home runs (Hosmer two-run shot in the second, Brayan Pena solo homer in the fifth) and the fourth came on a Little League homer (Jarrod Dyson triple and a throwing error). Still, a Tomlin short outing seems a lot less frustrating than a Jimenez or Masterson struggle, perhaps because the pain comes and goes quickly.
The offense, decimated though it is, continued to score. Lonnie Chisenhall hit a solo homer (also known in some circles as "rally killers") in his first at-bat of the season in the third, and the Indians by the end of the inning would chase starter Nate Adcock. Key hits in that inning included a two-run Jason Kipnis single, a Jose Lopez single on which Kipnis went to third after Mike Moustakas missed tagging him, and a Casey Kotchman single. The Royals closed the gap to 5-4 after scoring twice in the fifth, but the Indians got a run back in the bottom of the fifth and scored two more in the eighth thanks to two Royal errors (two-base throwing error on pitcher Jose Mijares, double play ball botched by second baseman Irving Falu).
With Tomlin only going five innings, and Tony Sipp not available, that put a strain on an already taxed bullpen. But each of the four relievers who followed Tomlin did their jobs, and allowed just one run on three hits over the final four innings.