It was a wild one in Cleveland on Tuesday night, but the Royals put together a 2015-esque comeback to beat the Indians, 8-6, and even the four-game series at one win apiece.
Down 3-0 in the third, Whit Merrifield blasted a three-run homer to left field, putting a temporary pause in his depressing slump that’s plagued his last two weeks. The three-run bomb pulled Kansas City even, but it was short lived because Jake Junis gave up a two-run homer to Francisco Lindor just minutes later.
Junis struggled: five runs in 4.1 innings. He’s been plagued by the long ball in the past, and that was his problem on Tuesday, as the Indians hit three homers in the first three innings against him.
But that was around the time the game began to change, as the Royals took over in the late innings to put together a nifty comeback. They got two in the seventh to tie the game when Cam Gallagher hit a two-out RBI double, making it 5-5. Kyle Zimmer and Greg Holland picked up Junis by blanking the Indians in innings five through eight, keeping the score close. That’s when the Royals pounced in the top of the eighth.
Adalberto Mondesi led off with a single. He stole second base, moved to third on a hit by Hunter Dozier, and scored on a tie-breaking sacrifice fly by Maikel Franco. Following a hit and a walk to load the bases, Nicky Lopez was plunked on the elbow, making it 7-5. The bullpen took it home from there.
The bullpen was just fantastic. Zimmer used a pick-off to escape the only mini-jam he was in; he got five outs without allowing a hit and struck out three. He’s had a really nice season overall: a 1.53 ERA in 12 games and 17.2 innings of work. Greg Holland was razor-sharp as well, as he cruised through two perfect innings to earn the win.
Dayton Moore has plenty of warts, but he is fantastic at finding bullpen pieces. It seems like way more of his buy-low, “let’s see what happens” free agency signings work out than not. Failed starters, failed prospect starters, buy-low free agents... they all become pieces in the Royals bullpen. Well-done.
Maikel Franco added an RBI single in the ninth to pad the Royals’ lead. Scott Barlow handled the home half to earn his second save, giving up a single run in the process. The final score was 8-6. That is FIVE runs in the last three innings for Kansas City, which I’m pretty sure is a franchise record.
The seven-game losing streak is history. The Royals are 15-28.
Tomorrow, the Royals go for their second win in as many days when they take on these same Indians when Danny Duffy opposes Carlos Carrasco. First pitch is at 5:10 pm.