Defensive miscues sink Indians as they drop rubber match to Kansas City 7-2

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians couldn't deliver the knockout blow to Kansas City's playoff hopes, and now they don't have much room for error the rest of the way.

September 18, 2013

Royals 7, Indians 2

After Tuesday's high, this was a low. Danny Salazar didn't pitch that badly - in fact, he pitched quite well - but defensive miscues really burned the Indians.

The fun started in the first inning, after Salazar had retired the first two batters of the game. Eric Hosmer singled, and then Salazar couldn't seem to throw strikes, walking Bill Butler on five pitches. That brought up Salvador Perez, perhaps Kansas City's hottest hitter, and Salazar wasn't able to cool him off. He lined a double down the left field, and not only did Hosmer score, but Butler scored from first. How did Butler score from first? The relay short hopped Yan Gomes at the plate, and Gomes wasn't able to snag it, and the ball bounced away. Had Gomes caught the ball, Butler would have been out by ten feet. Perez went to third on the play, and scored the third run of the inning when Salazar what was scored a wild pitch, but pitch a though Gomes should have been able to block.

The Indians got back into the game when the Royals made a miscue of their own. After Yan Gomes singled to start the third, Michael Brantley hit a double that wouldn't have scored Gomes if not for Jarrod Dyson kicking the ball out in center field. The Indians added a second run with a pair of sacrifice hits. It would be their final run of the game.

Another defensive gaffe allowed Kansas City to add to their lead. With a runner on first and third in the fifth, the runner at first (Allex Gordon) took off from first, but he was caught between first and second in a rundown. Mindful of the runner at third (Alcides Escobar), Nick Swisher threw to third after Escobar strayed too far off the base, and got him in a rundown. The play would have worked perfectly except that Yan Gomes overran Escobar, who had fallen to the ground. Gomes' tag completely missed Escobar, who jumped up and dove the 10 feet to home plate.

That's rundown was emblematic of this game. Mental and physical errors turned what would have been a close game into an easy win by the Royals. This time the Kansas City bullpen held firm, and the Royals broke the game completely open in the eighth inning with three runs, thanks mostly to Ryan Raburn's dropped popup.

The loss dropped the Indians to 1.5 games behind wild card leader Tampa Bay, and more importantly, the three teams behind them all gained a game on them. Now there's little room for error left, and although the schedule looks quite easy from here on out, they can't stumble.

AL Games of Interest

  • New York (-2.0) 4, Toronto 3 - Final
  • Baltimore (-0.5) 5, Boston 3 - Final (12 innings)
  • Tampa Bay (+1.5) 4, Texas 3 (+0.5) - Final (12 innings)

American League Wild Card Standings

Tampa Bay 83 68 .549 0 Won 1
Texas 82 69 .543 1 Lost 1
Cleveland 82 70 .539 1.5 Lost 1
Baltimore 81 70 .536 2 Won 3
Kansas City 80 72 .526 3.5 Won 1
New York 80 72 .526 3.5 Won 1

(updated 9.19.2013 at 7:09 AM EDT)

Source: FanGraphs

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