At one point, Kansas City hadn’t beat Cleveland in over four months, losing 12 straight games to the future Guardians.
The Royals broke that streak last week and had won four of five against Cleveland coming into tonight, but finished the season series with a whimper, falling 6-1. Kansas City’s offense left a small army on the bases, stranding 22 runners on the night.
Cleveland avoids the sweep and takes the season series 14-5.
Angel Zerpa started his Royals career with a bang, striking out three of the first six hitters he faced, retiring all six.
Andrew Benintendi stayed hot and started off the evening’s scoring, leading off the 2nd inning with a double and scoring on Carlos Santana’s RBI single.
Cleveland struck back in the 3rd, thanks in part to an Adalberto Mondesi throwing error to start the inning that put Roberto Perez on base. Oscar Mercado gave Cleveland their first hit of the night, shooting a double past Hunter Dozier in right, driving in Perez to tie the game at 1-1.
Another single allowed Bradley Zimmer to drive Mercado in on a sac fly to take the lead 2-1.
Kansas City threatened right back with a lead off single from Cam Gallagher and another single from Nicky Lopez. However, Cleveland starter Shane Bieber got Salvador Perez to pop out and was fortunate to have Benintendi line out sharply to end the inning.
Aside from a rough 3rd inning made worse by defensive miscues, Zerpa looked pretty darn good on the mound, especially compared to the performance of other rookies.
He worked through 5.0 innings, striking out four, and was true to his strike-throwing form, walking just a single batter. Mike Matheny pulled him after just 68 pitches for Dylan Coleman, who immediately got himself into trouble with a lead off triple to Jose Ramirez. Harold Ramirez followed that with an RBI single to put Cleveland up 3-1.
Cleveland starter Shane Bieber, making his 2nd start since his return from injury, mostly cruised through his three innings of work, aside from his first inning hiccup.
Logan Allen replaced him in the 4th and pitched well, but found trouble in the 6th that the Royals floundered. Salvador Perez led off the inning with a double and moved to 3rd on a single from Benintendi. Salvy was promptly thrown out at the plate on a groundball to 2nd base with the infield in.
A Hunter Dozier infield single loaded the bases only to see Adalberto Mondesi ground into a double play to end the inning.
Cleveland took advantage of the missed opportunity and broke the game open, tagging Tyler Zuber for two more runs to make it a 5-1 game.
Cleveland added another insurance run in the 9th to make it a 6-1 final.
Despite the loss, Kansas City wins the series though, and the record now stands at 73-86.
Up Next: Royals v. Twins, Friday, October 1, 7:10 PM CDT, Kauffman Stadium. RHP John Gant (5-10, 3.74 ERA) v. TBD