The Royals pitching staff have given runs up at will pretty much all season. And as mediocre as it has been, the 7th inning has been one of their most effective. Their 7th inning ERA is their third lowest as a staff and their .751 OPS against is the 2nd lowest as a staff.
That was not the case today. With the Royals up a run going into the 7th, the wheels fell completely off, surrendering six runs and allowing the Indians to bat around. That inning all but secured the win for the Indians, finishing the sweep with an 8-4 win.
The scoring started with a solo home run from Jose Ramirez, just his 6th of the season. Over his last month of action, Ramirez had hit just one home run and came into the ball game hitting just .214 on the season.
Indians starter Zach Plesac faced the minimum through his first two innings but literally ran into trouble in the 3rd. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Whit Merrifield grounded a ball back up the middle that bounced off of Plesac’s heal and into right-center field, allowing Cam Gallagher to score and tying the game at 1-1. Plesac’s hard luck continued immediately with an RBI bunt single from Adalberto Mondesi to put the Royals in front, followed shortly by back-to-back two-out walks from Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler to put the Royals up 3-1.
Indians manager Terry Francona had seen enough, replacing Plesac with A.J. Cole, who was able to get out of the bases loaded jam by striking out Cheslor Cuthbert. Plesac, a rookie, began his career by going at least seven innings in four of his six starts and getting through five innings in every single start.
Things drastically changed over his last two starts, failing to get out of the 4th in either appearance, and giving up 10 runs over just 6.1 innings. His 2.2 innings in today’s game was the shortest outing of his young career.
On the other side, Homer Bailey labored a bit but managed to keep the Indians under control. They were able to make it a 3-2 game in the 5th on a Francisco Lindor single but Bailey was able to leave runners on first and third with just one out thanks to an Oscar Mercado double play. He pitched into the 6th but was removed for Tim Hill in the 6th after giving up a leadoff double to Carlos Santana. Hill was able to strand Santana on second.
Jorge Lopez would replace Hill in the 7th, an inning that would not end well for the Royals. After back-to-back singles to start the inning, Tyler Naquin doubled in a good 1-2 pitch from Lopez to tie the game at 3-3. That put runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out for Lindor, who singled the first pitch he saw into center field, giving the Indians a 5-3 lead.
On the afternoon, Lopez faced four batters and allowed all four to reach before being removed for Wily Peralta. The outing abruptly ended Lopez’s strongest stretch of the season, logging a 2.70 ERA over his last seven outings. The Indians also weren’t done, either. A throwing error by Gallagher turned into two more runs and Ramirez added his second home run of the day for good measure, ending a disastrous 7th inning with the Royals down 8-3.
The struggles continued into the 8th. A bloop double by Mike Freeman that was misplayed by Gore put runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. With one out, Newberry intentionally walked Lindor to load the bases for Mercado. The move paid off, as Mercado grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Gallagher hit his first home run of the season in the 9th to make it 8-4, but that was as close as the Royals would get.
The loss dropped the Royals to 30 games under .500 at 29-59, while the Indians moved to 10 games over .500 at 48-38.
Up Next: Royals at Nationals, Friday, July 5, 6:05 PM CDT, Nationals Park. RHP Brad Keller (4-9, 4.63 ERA) v. Austin Voth (0-0, 4.35 ERA)