In the top of the fifth inning, with two outs and Jose Ramirez on base, Cleveland Indians right fielder Jay Bruce lined a laser double just barely fair to score Ramirez. It was the fourth run Cleveland had scored against zero Kansas City Royals runs. Fox Sports Kansas City microphones picked up a lone male voice cutting through the noise. “FUCK!,” the voice eloquently monologued as Bruce’s smash landed fair.
“It’s not as sharp as Ned Yost would have liked to have him tonight,” muttered Rex Hudler about Royals lefty Jason Vargas while Yost sauntered out to remove the creaking starter before the close of the fifth inning for the second consecutive evening.
In the bottom of the fifth, with two outs and both Whit Merrifield and Lorenzo Cain on base, Eric Hosmer crushed a line drive to first base. Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana caught said liner, the second time he had taken a surefire hit away from Hosmer. Fox Sports Kansas City microphones picked up a lone male voice, one that sounded like Hosmer. “FUCK!,” the disembodied voice declared with authority.
If there’s a single word that describes this evening, it was that one, the glorious four-letter swear fitting perfectly for this performance. For the second straight night, Cleveland crushed Kansas City, tonight’s score a clean 5-0 contest.
It took until the fifth inning for the Royals to place more than one baserunner on in the same frame. Drew Butera cleanly singled to left field, and following a Whit Merrifield fielder’s choice Lorenzo Cain
The Royals mounted an attack in the sixth inning. Mike Moustakas cracked a double to center field, and then Brandon Moss followed with a nice walk, fouling off tough fastballs and laying off tough breaking balls to get to ball four.
But coming up to the plate was the worst qualified hitter in baseball this year (and the worst qualified hitter in baseball since the start of 2015), and so Alcides Escobar’s double play erased both baserunners and neutered the threat.
Kansas City consistently put a player on base, equally consistent in leaving that player on the basepaths without coming to home plate. Some of it was bad luck, some of it sequencing, some of it the simple reality of having the two worst hitters in baseball rounding out the bottom of the lineup.
The pitching wasn’t stellar, either. Vargas notched seven strikeouts in his 4.2 innings, but also gave up six hits and three walks in that time, resluting in four earned runs. In the eighth inning, Brandon Maurer channeled his inner Joakim Soria and coughed up another run.
Props should go to Mike Minor, however, who rescued the game from a bullpentastrophe by pitching 2.1 scoreless innings in support of the lagging Vargas.
There are often forgettable games in a 162-contest season, and tonight’s was one of them. Again, Cleveland clearly showed why they are the better team and the leaders of the American League Central Division. It’s a harsh reminder of what the Royals will face in the playoffs, should they survive the gauntlet and get into the Wild Card Game or Divisional Series.
After tonight’s win, Cleveland improves to 68-53. Meanwhile, Kansas City’s loss knocks their record back to .500 again at 61-61.