For three innings, Tuesday's game looked to be a low-scoring affair.
Cleveland sent Danny Salazar to the mound and he plowed through the Royals in dominant fashion, recording each of his first six outs by way of the strikeout. In each of the first two innings a Royal batsman got on base, but each time it came in the form of an infield single. Norichika Aoki took a Salazar offering to left for a two-out double. Lorenzo Cain followed up by reaching on an error, but the Racists got out of the third unscathed as Eric Hosmer grounded out to first to end the inning.
For his part, Yordano Ventura did everything in his power to thwart the Racists' slings and arrows. After laboring through a first inning that saw him put two aboard but escaping with a scoreless frame, Ventura settled down and made quick work of the Cleveland nine, facing the minimum in each of the next three innings.
In the top of the fourth, Billy Butler led off with a walk, and Alex Gordon promptly followed with a single to right-center. Then Omar Infante scorched a double into the corner in left, plating Butler and Gordon and advancing to third himself on the throw to the plate.
With the score 2 - 0 in favor of the Royals, the game still seemed close until Salazar ceded a two-out double to Eric Hosmer in the fifth. Suddenly, the Royals' bats. Came. Alive. If you were paying close enough attention, you probably saw the Ghost of Peter Frampton inhabit each of their bodies. Billy Butler scorched a ground-rule double to deep right center, sending Hosmer home. Following the vintage Butler action, the cowering Racists intentionally walked Alex Gordon to get to Salvador Perez. Perez ripped a two-run double of his own, this one to left-center field. Then the quivering Racists elected to intentionally walk Omar Infante before lifting Salazar one out shy of an official start. Kyle Crockett entered in relief, exorcised the stadium of Frampton's Ghost, and got Mike Moustakas to Mike Moustakas. The Racists were finally, mercifully out of the inning, but not before allowing the third through fifth Royals' runs.
The Royals would add another two-run double in the seventh, with Alex Gordon driving in Hosmer and Butler, and the Racists would add a run of their own in the eighth thanks to Scott Downs, who allowed a Michael Brantley double to kick off his inning of work.
That late scoring was largely immaterial, however. The game was decided with swift decisiveness in the fifth. Yordano Ventura was mostly sharp, getting himself into trouble a couple of times but reaching back to quell each attempted rally that the dastardly intradivisional Racists put together. On the night, he struck out six, allowed four walks and four hits, and shut the Clevelanders out for 7.0 IP and 117 pitches.
Where the hell was this offense two weeks ago? Oh, that's right, Butler--who was at the heart of the offensive attack tonight--was in the dog house, despite the fact that he'd been integral to their hot streak in August. It's just one game, but the offense was clicking, thanks in large part to the efforts of Butler, Hosmer, and Gordon tonight. Five more games, dudes. Keep it up.
With Detroit walking off yet again after blowing a late-inning lead only to have their offense bail them out, the Royals maintained pace with the division leaders, sitting one game back of the Central lead with five to go.
In the Wild Card picture, Seattle got smoked 10 - 2 in Toronto, and Oakland trails Anaheim 1 - 0 in the second at the instant this recap was published.