The Indians’ series opener against the Royals in Kansas City on Tuesday turned into an unexpected pitchers’ duel, as the Tribe just barely managed a 2-1 win. Royals’ right-hander Jeremy Guthrie rebounded nicely from a disastrous outing his last time out, going 5.2 innings and allowing just one run. He gave up two hits and walked a batter, but avoided any major damage despite having just one strikeout. Carlos Carrasco pitched seven strong innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts.
With one out in the bottom of the third inning, Mike Moustakas singled to right field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Despite getting Lorenzo Cain to ground out, Salazar gave up a two-out single to Eric Hosmer that scored the first run of the game.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Guthrie had to face Brandon Moss. After a lengthy at-bat, Moss launched a home run to right field to tie the game at 1-1, where it would remain for the next four innings.
Reliever Wade Davis came on to pitch the top of the eighth inning, and the Tribe took advantage. Davis walked Michael Bourn, but appeared to get a double play off of the bat of Jose Ramirez. However, Ramirez was called safe, and despite a replay challenge, the Royals did not get the call overturned. Jason Kipnis followed with a double-play ball of his own, but second baseman Omar Infante bobbled the ball, and Kansas City could only get the lead runner. After walking Carlos Santana, Davis gave up an RBI double to Michael Brantley that allowed Kipnis to score, and the Indians to take a 2-1 lead.
Carrasco continued to be impressive in his seven innings of work, giving the Indians’ bullpen some much-needed rest. Although Terry Francona used four different relievers, only Cody Allen had to pitch to more than one batter, as Nick Hagadone, Bryan Shawn and Marc Rzepczynski recorded one out each in the eighth inning. Moss went 2-for-3, including his home run, and Brantley broke out of a mini-slump with his RBI hit in the eighth inning. In the last ten games, Brantley’s average has dropped 17 points, as he’s gone 8-for-38.
Ramirez is really struggling. His offense is non-existent, and he’s looked as though the pressure is starting to get to him every time he steps to the plate. It’s time to send him to Columbus until he gets back on his feet. Mike Aviles will need to be the everyday shortstop until either Ramirez or Francisco Lindor is ready to take over.
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Check It Out
– The Tribe’s run off of Davis was the first run he had allowed in 22 innings this season. He had allowed only nine hits and six walks in 2015, until the Tribe took advantage in the eighth inning.
– Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez was removed from the game for precautionary reasons after being hit with a foul tip.
– On Wednesday, left-hander Jason Vargas will duel with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, as the Royals and Indians face off in the second game of the series. Vargas is 3-2 with a 5.16 ERA over just 29.2 innings, with 20 strikeouts. He’s also allowed 11 walks. Despite the Tribe’s hitting woes against lefties, Vargas isn’t much of a match statistically for Kluber. The Indians’ ace is 3-5, but has struck out 96 batters in just 76.2 innings, earning a 3.52 ERA.