This was not the end of a long winning streak, but it did feel like a drastic end to a long stretch of good baseball. The Indians came into Kansas City winners of 9 out of their last 10, and were coming off a 17-7 pasting of the Rangers. With Corey Kluber going tonight, you figured at the very least the Indians were going to be in the game until the end.
But just about everything went wrong. In a season full of peaks and valleys, one of the constants of the season has been the abysmal defense. It's been there in losing streaks and even winning streaks. The Indians have been winning despite the errors, but tonight they couldn't make up for a key error in the third inning.
Corey Kluber, who cruised through the first two innings having thrown only 11 pitches, walked Mike Moustakas on four pitches with one out (in his previous game against the Royals, he threw a complete game in which he struck out 11 and didn't walk a batter). Then he gave up a hit to Alcides Escobar. But then Jarrod Dyson hit a sharp grounder right at Jason Kipnis, and it looked like at the very least the Royals would have runners on first and third with two out. But Asdrubal Cabrera, in his haste to turn the double play (Dyson is one of the fastest runners in the league), he didn't catch the ball. In previous years, the Indians would have gotten away with it, for second base umpire Marvin Hudson said that Cabrera did catch the ball, but a challenge would clearly show that the ball popped out on the catch and not the transfer. Omar Infante then hit a two-run single, and after an Eric Hosmer ground out (which might have been a double play had Carlos Santana not bobbled the ball), Billy Butler lined another two-run single through the right side.
Although most of that four-run inning was not Kluber's fault, he still wasn't on his game. He only went five innings, allowing six runs (three earned), one of his worst outings of the season. In the fifth inning, he gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer, who prior to tonight's game had only hit two on the season. Hosmer wouldn't be the only Royal to hit a rare home run on the evening; Mike Moustakas, who spent a week in Omaha recently because of his awful hitting, hit a home run off Josh Outman in the eighth. In all, the Royals hit three home runs on the evening, a massive number given that going into the game they had hit just 28 on the season.
The Tribe bats meanwhile were held in check most of the night by Jason Vargas, who pitched into the eighth inning before the Indians finally got on the board. The Tribe made it somewhat interesting by scoring three in the eighth, but Kansas City responded with three of their own in the bottom of the eighth to put the game out of reach. The bullpen, which has been great on this winning streak, let the team down tonight in that eighth inning. Nick Hagadone, who has been phenomenal in his first couple appearances, gave up a home run, which has previously been his weakness. Josh Outman gave up another home run to a left-hander.
This was a total team loss. Starting pitching, relief pitching, hitting, and defense, all helped author this defeat.
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