Indians fall victim of another tough loss, Royals squeeze by 2-1
Carrasco outduels Shields, but Tribe bullpen gives up the ballgame late
On Puppypalooza night at Progressive Field, the game itself belonged to the dogs.
Up 1-0 after seven innings, the Indians dropped another tough loss late in the ballgame, falling to the Kansas City Royals, 2-1.
After spending 24 days in second place in the American League Central, the loss now puts Cleveland (34-35) in third place for the first time since May 10.
“We had a couple chances, but couldn’t cash in,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said.
A couple may actually be an understatement as the Indians offense left 11 runners on base and went just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on the night.
The lone bright spot for the Tribe was a brilliant starting pitching performance by Carlos Carrasco.
Entering the ballgame 0-2 with a 15.40 ERA, Carrasco looked like a totally different pitcher on Monday, taking a perfect game into the fifth inning. He touched as high as 97 MPH on the radar gun and needed only 17 pitches to get through the first two frames.
The hard throwing right-hander went a season-best 7 1/3 innings giving up just one run on four hits on the night.
“I just feel happy that I did a really good job,” Carrasco said. “That’s the way I need to pitch.”
It was the first time Carrasco logged seven innings of work since Aug. 3, 2011. Netting the no decision on Monday night, the right-hander has not won a game at Progressive Field since June 18, 2011.
“He was so good,” Francona said. “He worked his fastball both sides of the plate and Carlos [Santana] called a really good game. That’s probably a little much to ask for every outing, but that’s what we’ve been hoping for.”
Carrasco threw 58 of his 90 pitches for strikes and lowered his ERA to 8.40 on the season.
“He was aggressive and aggressive in the zone,” Francona said. “It was really exciting to see. He should be confident with the way he threw the ball.”
For the first five innings, the Indians and Royals were locked in a scoreless tie as Carrasco out-dueled Royals aceJames Shields (2-6, 2.72 ERA) throughout the ballgame.
Offensively, Cleveland had chances to score with the bases loaded in both the third and fifth innings, but could not get a run across early as Jason Kipnis struck out to end the threat in both scoring chances.
It wasn’t until the sixth that the Tribe cashed in courtesy of Santana. The Indians catcher blasted a solo homer off Shields for his tenth long ball of the year, giving the team their first lead of the game.
Little did Cleveland and the rest of Tribe Town know, it would be their only lead of the night as the bullpen gave the game up late, just as the ‘pen did on Saturday night against the Washington Nationals.
With a record of 26-7 coming into Monday when the team scores first, the Cleveland bullpen could not hold the late lead after Carrasco exited the ballgame with one on and one out in the eighth inning.
On an 0-2 pitch to Kansas City pinch hitter Miguel Tejada, Albers threw a wild pitch that Santana let go between his legs for what would turn out to be the winning run to score.
“If I could look back, I would probably throw the same pitch just a little bit up,” Albers said. “I was just trying to throw a curveball down, I threw it a little too much in the dirt. Didn’t really miss by too much cause I wanted him to chase it there, but definitely was trying to miss for a ball down.”
Down just one run in the ninth, Francona chose to stick with 38-year old utility man John McDonald to lead off the inning against Royals closer Greg Holland rather than go to his bench for Yan Gomes or Drew Stubbs to pinch hit.
“I’d rather have Johnny Mac try and get on and then let Stubbs run,” Francona said. “If Gomes hits, we got to let him run so it didn’t make much sense to me.”
The move didn’t pay off as McDonald flew out for the first out in the inning. Michael Bourn laced a double off the left field wall to put the go-ahead run at the plate with one out.
Mike Aviles would strikeout and Kipnis would strand Bourn on third grounding out to second base to end the ballgame.
Going hitless on the night, Kipnis also snaps his 10 game hitting streak.
“Every loss is frustrating,” Albers said. “We were right there and Carlos pitched great for us all night. It happens, but we just have to get back at it tomorrow.”
Just 12,803 watched the Tribe fall in the series opener as Cleveland will look to even the series on Tuesday asUbaldo Jimenez (5-4, 4.79 ERA) toes the rubber against Royals right-hander Ervin Santana (5-5, 2.74 ERA).
Notes: First baseman Nick Swisher received a cortisone shot on Monday and his left shoulder was further examined with results showing nothing new. He will miss the rest of the three-game series with Kansas City and look to make his return to the Cleveland lineup on Friday against the Minnesota Twins at the earliest….Before the ballgame, starting pitcher Corey Kluber and Kipnis were named co-A.L. Players of the Week for June 10-16. Kluber went 2-0 in the week with a 0.56 ERA in two starts while Kipnis batted .524 (11-for-21) with two doubles, a homer and four RBI….The Indians are now 8-3 lifetime in games Shields gets the start.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The good news is that the pitching was there. Carrasco was brilliant, and hopefully this start will give him the confidence to pitch aggressively and put all the suspension nonsense behind him.
If Carrasco can put it all together the way Kluber and McAllister are doing, this season could be the springboard to several years of winning teams that consistently contend for the playoffs. They just need to finish off Bauer's development and get Chisenhall on track and this team will be ready to go.
Oh, and find a couple of decent lefty relievers.
Santana really needs to improve his ability to block pitches in the dirt. His fundamentals are very poor. On the wild pitch that allowed the winning run to score, his butt was a foot off the ground when it should have been on the ground. He reached for the pitch with his glove, leaving a hole for the ball to get through. With the bases loaded late in a tie game he needs to get his glove out of the way and block the pitch with his body.