The Indians win 6-4 against the Royals, staying alive in the playoff picture for the moment. It was not a well-played game by Kansas City, although I suppose we've seen a lot worse. Still, when Indians starting pitcher
Jack Trevor Bauer threw a mere 7 pitches in the first inning to retire the side, my Royal senses tingled. I did not have a good feeling about this game. I was right.
In the bottom of the first, Jason Vargas did bad things in the bottom of the inning. After getting two outs, Vargas faltered, allowing a single to Michael Brantley and walking Carlos Santana. The Brazilian Bomber, Yan Gomes, then crushed a 3-run home run out to center field. Right away, the Indians were up 3-0 and the Royals weren’t looking good on the offensive front.
Indeed, for the next few innings, the Royals squandered a number of opportunities. In the second inning, Bauer induced an Eric Hosmer groundout and then fought with his control, walking Billy Butler and hitting Alex Gordon to put 2 on with 1 out. Salvador Perez proceeded to swing at each of the next three pitches, striking out quickly, because balls are meant to be swung at!!!!!! Omar Infante then lined out to Michael Bourn and the threat ended with no runs.
In the third inning, the Royals Royal’d pretty hard. Escobar singled and it looked like another opportunity against a struggling pitcher. But then Aoki flied to center and Escobar was thrown out at second base, tagging with his team behind 3-0. Nothing to see here. In the FOURTH inning, the Royals finally scored, but still squandered the opportunity to put some real pressure on Cleveland. Cain led off with a single, and after advancing to second base from a Hosmer groundout, scored on a Butler single. Gordon walked and, for the second time, Perez had runners at first and second with one out. For the second time, Perez struck out, the only difference being that this was in four pitches and not three. Infante loaded the bases with a single of his own, but Mike Moustakas followed up with a putrid at-bat* that left Royals fans everywhere weeping.
*Seriously, Moustakas has been horrible this year. Horrible. He’s now around 20% below average for his career. I, for one, would rather see Colon in the full-time 3B role next year and just cut Moose loose. Paying arbitration money for such horrid play is a bad idea.
Meanwhile, Vargas squirmed about, looking quite bad against a mediocre team. However, for the next few innings, Vargas kept the Indians from scoring any additional runs. Still, Vargas obviously didn’t have it.
The Royals finally plated some runs in the fifth inning. Escobar and Aoki singled to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Hosmer singled, scoring Escobar and moving Aoki to third base. Butler, in the midst of a mini-renaissance, then doubled to score Aoki and Hosmer. Terry Francona smartly chose to intentionally walk Gordon to get to Perez, who made one swing at one pitch and made one out. Infante did the same to end the inning with no further threat. 4-3 Royals.
Then, in the bottom of the inning, Vargas immediately hit Bourn and Ned promptly removed him from the game. Good choice. Yost then put in Brandon Finnegan. Finnegan allowed Bourn to score and threw in Jose Ramirez for free after a double and a Santana groundout; these would the be the Indians’ fourth and fifth runs and would be the deciding ones. Next inning, Aaron Crow walked Mike Aviles on four pitches, who then scored on a sac fly by David Murphy a few batters later, a run which turned out to be inconsequential.
The Royals didn’t do anything for the rest of the game, the offense apparently spent. In the final four innings, there were only two hits and one walk, none in the same inning. Hosmer doubled in the ninth, but with two outs it was a mostly futile gesture, and Butler made the final out. Indians win 6-4.
Billy Butler-Butler had a great game, driving in 3 of the Royals' runs and getting on base 3 out of 5 times. His bat has gotten hotter recently, which can only be a good thing.
Eric Hosmer-the other run was driven in by Crime Horse, who has been sneaky good for weeks. I think it's because he counters his hits with selectively terrible plate discipline and baserunning.
Seattle Mariners-The Magic Number is now down to 2 after the Mariners' 1-0 loss today. This means that one KC victory and one Seattle loss means playoffs. Technically playoffs. You get the idea.
Salvador Perez-Ugh, Perez has looked awful lately. Tonight's offensive performance was hack'n'slash Perez at his, er, finest. He struck out twice on a combined 7 pitches his first two times up, stranding 4 baserunners. Then, in his third time up, he swung at the first pitch, making an out and stranding another duo of baserunners. All told, he went 0-4, 2 strikeouts, 6 LOB. Defensively, he allowed a steal which proved to be an important run.
Mike Moustakas-Moose swung at a clear ball four with the bases loaded. He went 0-4 with 4 LOB. I'm pretty sure we can definitively say he's a terrible hitter by now.
Jason Vargas-Well, he went 4 innings, which is not good. He was charged 4 runs; also not good. In his past 6 starts he's pitched 29.2 innings and given up 22 runs. The Royals have lost 5 of them. Let's hope Ned realizes that maybe he's not the best guy to start in a playoff game.
Detroit Tigers-with this loss and the Detroit victory, the Royals are now 2 games back with 4 to play. The division is pretty much out of the picture at this point. Still, the Royals are on track for a happy ending.