July 14, 2013
Indians 6, Royals 4
The Indians had an opportunity to put the Royals into a deep hole to end the traditional first half of the season, and they ran with it.
I mentioned this morning that over the last five games the Indians' starting pitching had been carrying the team. Well, that wasn't the case today, but the offense and the bullpen stepped up instead. The Indians lineup scored only three runs off of James Shields, but forced him out of the game after five innings, which set the stage for what happened in the sixth inning. The Indians got on the board in the first inning, with Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera leading of the game with singles and Jason Kipnis driving Cabrera home with a sacrifice fly. The Royals came back to lead the lead with two runs off Jimenez in the second, but the Indians scored two in the third to take a 3-2 lead. The see-saw battle continued when Kansas City scored two more off Jimenez in the fourth. So even though the Indians were forcing Shields towards an early exit, you could also see that Jimenez just didn't have it today. And thanks to the looming All-Star Break, Terry Francona could pull Ubaldo in the fifth without worrying about the next couple of games.
After CC Lee was recalled before Friday's game, Francona mentioned that he wanted to get Lee into a game without much pressure. But when Lee entered for his MLB debut, it was still a close game. Jimenez had allowed the first batter of the inning to reach, and the Indians were only trailing by a run. Lee showed some nerves early onl, walking Salvador Perez, but after that he buckled down, inducing three straight popups to get the Indians out of the inning without any damage. Lee came out to start the sixth, hit a batter and got an out when Alcides Escobar popped up a bunt attempt, then was pulled. It was a fine debut, and based on how the Kansas City hitters reacted to his stuff, the scouting report matched reality. The Royal hitters couldn't get on top of Lee's fastball, and his slider had excellent break on it. I don't think it's a given that he will be the one going to Columbus when the Indians next need a fifth starter.
After Shields left the game, the Indians once again jumped on the Kansas City bullpen. Tim Collins was brought to face Chisenhall, Stubbs, Bourn and possible Cabrera and Kipnis, but he only recorded one out, and that was on a sacrifice bunt. After Chisenhall (walk) and Stubbs (single) reached, Michael Bourn sacrificed them to second and third, setting the stage for Asdrubal Cabrera's go-ahead two-run double. After Collins was pulled, Jason Kipnis greeted fellow southpaw Everett Teaford with an RBI single, giving the Indians a 6-4 lead, a lead that would hold up.
The Tribe bullpen kept the Royals off the scoreboard over the last 5 innings, with Bryan Shaw pitching around a leadoff double in the seventh, Joe Smith pitching a 1-2-3 eighth, and Chris Perez, who has looked much better since returning from the DL, got through the ninth despite a one-out double to finish off the Royals.
The Indians finish the traditional first half of the season 1.5 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central and three games behind the Rangers in the Wild Card race. It certainly hasn't been an easy road to this point, but as things stand now the Indians are in a very nice position to make a run at either the division title or the Wild Card as the AL East teams start to play each other after the break.
American League Wild Card Standings
|Tampa Bay||55||41||.572||0||Won 2|
|New York||51||44||.536||3.5||Lost 2|
|Los Angeles||44||48||.478||9||Lost 2|
|Kansas City||43||49||.467||10||Lost 5|
(updated 7.14.2013 at 5:45 PM EDT)
AL Central Standings
Roll Call (29 Commenters)
|12||Mr. Bad Example||12|
|19||new zealand tribe fan||4|