To say things started off poorly for the Royals would be a significant understatement. In the first inning, the Royals--led by their strikingly handsome hurler Luis Mendoza--walked up to the precipice and stared into the deep abyss of a runaway game before taking one long step back. MendozACE walked the first Clevelander he faced, setting the tone for what was to be a dismal first frame. After inducing a fly ball out from Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher mustered back-to-back singles eventually advancing Michael Brantley to third and leaving the bases juiced for Carlos Santana. Santana and Mendoza battled in an epic showdown with Santana eventually working a bases-loaded walk, plating Brantley for the first Cleveland run and leaving the bases full with just one out. Cleveland slugger Mark Reynolds stepped up to the plate and was promptly hit in the shoulder with a pitch that got away from Mendoza, causing many across the heartland to worry that perhaps Mendoza's mane had secretly been shorn and that in its stead sat a professional-grade wig in a desperate attempt to maintain image without the true substance of the mane that hath sprung forth from his scalp. Luckily for Mendoza and his worried followers alike, Jason Giambi took a swing at a horrible pitch and bailed Mendoza out of a jam with a routine double-play grounder.
For the next two innings, Mendoza cruised, matching his Racist counterpart Corey Kluber. Kluber, to his credit, was magnificent for four innings, allowing just one base-runner on a Salvador Perez double to deep left center in the second. Otherwise the Royals bats were stifled for four frames. Mendoza shut down the Indians in the second and third, but he found a way to load the bases again in the fourth, and an Asdrubal Cabrera single pushed two more Racist runs across the plate. The fourth would be Mendoza's final inning, leaving him with a line of 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 1 HBP, and 2 K.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth, things were looking mighty dire for the Kansas City nine. Kluber had shown why he held the eighth-best K/BB in MLB (minimum: 50 IP) en route to four dominant innings. Then the back end of the night's line-up went to work with Mike Moustakas, David Lough, and Johnny Giavotella each earning a trip to first base--the first two by way of singles and the latter with a walk. After Jarrod Dyson lined out to left and Moustakas almost got thrown out at third after a tag up/break for home/stumble back to third sequence that sent every Royals fan watching into a PTSD nightmare that few other sports fans can fathom, recalling horrific images of the past fifteen dismal seasons of baseball only to be interrupted when somehow Moustakas didn't get doubled up at third, the befuddled Royals fans unfurrowed their brows, patted their strained and stressed hair back down to their heads, and gathered themselves because the man stepping to the plate with the bases full of Royals was none other than Alex Gordon.
Kluber looked towards home plate and in the batter's box stood the man who he'd hit just a couple innings earlier in an act of possibly passive-aggressive vengeance following the Reynolds near-beheading. Now were that man Jarrod Dyson, Chris Getz (R.I.P.), or even Jeff Francoeur, no fear would have crept into his heart, but Alex Gordon is not one of those men. No, Alex Gordon is a man to be feared.
Kluber nibbled, distraught at the notion that so much was on the line with the most fearsome lead-off hitter in all of baseball staring him down with that icy glare. As he dillydallied, he fell behind not 1 - 0, not 2 - 0, but 3 - 0 in the count. Needing a strike lest he follow in the first-inning footsteps of Luis Mendoza, Kluber gave Gordon an offering that ended up being his undoing. Gordon unleashed his smooth-as-hell swing and destroyed that pitch, hitting it 392 feet into a 15 MPH wind coming in from right. If ever a dong hanging lent credence to a majestic label, it was this home run.
Unfortunately the Royals bullpen--namely Tim Collins and Aaron Crow--undid everything Alex Gordon did with his hardened wood staff and the Royals ended up losing to the still first-place Cleveland Racists 6 - 5. With his 16 appearances in June leaving him totally fresh for tonight (for the uninitiated, that there is sarcasm), Collins walked the only two batters he faced. Then Crow came in and loaded the bases with a third consecutive free pass. With the bases juiced, Carlos Santana hit a sacrifice fly. Giambi doubled in another run two batters later, and those two Cleveland runs were all they would need. For his part, Luke Hochevar held the tie for two innings of dominant work, allowing one base-runner via a walk and striking out four. Chen pitched the final two frames without allowing a run, inducing an inning-ending double play in both the eighth and ninth, and miraculously not allowing an inherited runner to score. Of course, he came in at the beginning of each inning, so his 10 of 12 inherited runners scoring mark remains where it was heading into today.
In the eighth, the Royals threatened to tie the game back up, but ultimately fell short. Hosmer led off with a single and then went first to home on a Billy Butler double. With Elliot Johnson pinch-running, Perez grounded out (advancing E.T.'s friend to third), Moustakas walked, and Lough hit a rocket to Jason Kipnis to begin a rally-killing double play hot on the heels of narrowly missing a game-tying screamer down the right field line that went just foul at the bag on the first pitch of the appearance.
They threatened again in the ninth with Dyson walking and Gordon singling with one out, but Escobar--who is still bafflingly hitting second--struck out on three pitches, and Hosmer hit a grounder for the third time in the game, ending everything with the force at second.
The Royals now sit 5.5 back from Cleveland and 5.0 back from Detroit, who also won tonight. The Racists succeeded largely because the Royals walked eight of them and gave another a free base by way of the hit-by-pitch. While entirely impossible to fathom how the Clevelanders walked eight times in Kauffman Stadium, which is so large that it makes drawing a walk virtually impossible, they somehow got nine free baserunners and even more puzzlingly won the game, even though everyone knows you can't walk your way to victory.