The Kansas City Royals had a disappointing game all around against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, losing 6-4 as the Indians completed a three-game sweep.
Cleveland scored against James Shields in the bottom of the first inning. Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera hit back-to-back singles to lead-off the game, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Jason Kipnis followed with a sacrifice fly, driving in Bourn, but Shields escaped the rest of the inning unscathed. Shields has now allowed 17 first inning runs in 20 starts.
Kansas City took their first lead in the top half of the second. Lorenzo Cain got things started with an one-out infield single, then David Lough slapped a single right over the head of Mike Aviles. Johnny Giavotella followed with a walk, loading the bases for Alcides Escobar.
Escobar hit a flyball to Bourn, which looked deep enough to score Cain. Bourn made an incredible throw to the plate, and it looked like Cain may have been out; Jonah Keri of Grantland seemed to think so:
Michael Bourn with a phenomenal throw to nail the speedy Lorenzo Cain at home and end a tough inning. Except ump missed the call.— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) July 14, 2013
Either way, the umpire ruled Cain safe, and the inning continued. Alex Gordon hit a two-out single to score Lough, pushing the Royals ahead 2-1.
The Indians regained the lead in the bottom of the third. Kipnis drew a one-out walk, then advanced to second on a Nick Swisher groundout. Michael Brantley followed with a two-out RBI single, then Carlos Santana roped a double down the right-field line, scoring Brantley. Lough may have had a chance to throw Brantley out at the plate, but mishandled the ball in rightfield.
The Royals battled back in the fourth against Jimenez. Cain drew a leadoff walk, then swiped second base. Santana air-mailed the throw, which allowed Cain to advance to third on the error.
Lough dropped down a bunt single, and beat out the throw to first, but did not advance Cain. Lough stole second base, which eliminated the double play. That proved to be key, as Giavotella hit a groundout to the shortstop, which plated Cain and kept Lough in scoring position.
Escobar picked up his second RBI of the day with a single to left after Giavotella's groundout, giving the Royals a 4-3 lead.
Although Shields left after the fifth inning in line for the win, the starter labored through five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. Shields struck out four and walked three, making him fairly lucky to only allow three runs. Cleveland hitters were very disciplined at the plate, forcing Shields to throw a ton of pitches and chasing the starter early.
That discipline payed off, as the Indians recaptured the lead in the bottom half of the sixth. Tim Collins issued a leadoff walk to Lonnie Chisenhall, then surrendered a single to Drew Stubbs. Borun sacrificed the two runners over, putting both runners in scoring position with one out for Cabrera.
Cabrera smashed a 1-0 changeup from Collins to deep center, driving in both to give Cleveland a 5-4 lead. Everett Teaford relieved Collins, and allowed the inherited runner to score on a Kipnis single, but otherwise limited the damage.
Neither team ended up scoring again. The Royals best chance came in the seventh when Billy Butler hit a leadoff double, but the team could not drive him in. I'll just leave this here:
Mike Moustakas RISP update: 4 for 66— Brandon H. (@BHIndepMO) July 14, 2013
For the silver linings department: Butler, Lough and Gordon all had multi-hit games, while Louis Coleman and Aaron Crow each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.
The Royals have now lost five straight games, and enter the All-Star break with a 43-49 record. The team is 8 games behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central, and 6 ½ games behind Cleveland for second place.