The Cleveland Indians bounced back after a heartbreaking loss Monday with a 7-3 win over the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night. The win moved the Tribe to 55-38 on the season as they regained their 6.5 game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the division (Detroit lost 6-2 tonight). The Royals dropped to 47-46 with the loss and remain in third place in the American League Central division.
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Danny Salazar (W, 11-3) entered the day with the American League’s lowest earned run average at 2.75 and finished the day…with an American League-best 2.75 ERA. Salazar worked 6 2/3 solid innings allowed three runs, just two earned, on eight hits. He walked just one and struck out seven Royals. He held Kansas City scoreless through the first five innings but ran into some trouble late. Salvador Perez got the Royals on the board with a one-out RBI single scoring Eric Hosmer and making it 6-1 Indians. Later in the inning, the Royals added a second run on a wild pitch by Salazar.
The only other run the Royals got on the night came in the 7th inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Cheslor Cuthbert to score Whit Merrifield and make it 6-3 Indians. A passed ball by Chris Gimenez earlier in the inning resulted in that run being “unearned” and helping Salazar maintain his league-best ERA. Left-hander Kyle Crockett came on in the 7th to get the final out, striking out Hosmer with a runner at third. Bryan Shaw came in for some redemption after his blown save last night and worked a 1-2-3 8th inning while striking out a pair. Cody Allen would close out the game though the four-run lead prevented him from getting the save.
Mike Napoli got the party started early with a two-run home run in the 1st inning to put the Tribe up 2-0. It was his team-leading 21st home run of the season. The Indians added a third run in the 3rd inning off Royals’ starter Brian Flynn (L, 1-1) on a sacrifice fly by Francisco Lindor making it 3-0 Cleveland. Flynn would be knocked out after just 2 1/3 innings in what was his first start since 2014. Veteran Dillon Gee worked 5 1/3 innings of relief but allowed three runs himself with the first two coming on a two-run single by Carlos Santana making it 5-0 Tribe before Juan Uribe made it 6-0 on a RBI single of his own.
After the Royals cut the lead to 6-3, Francisco Lindor gave the Indians an extra insurance run in the top of the 9th inning with his 12th home run of the season, a solo shot down the right-field line, making it 7-3 Cleveland. Every member of the Tribe’s starting lineup recorded at least one hit, including Erik Gonzalez who got the start in right field and collected his first big league with a leadoff single in the 3rd inning.
The Indians and Royals will be back at it tomorrow afternoon in the rubber match of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 2:15 pm as Carlos Carrasco (6-3, 2.49 ERA) is set to take the hill for the Indians. The Royals will counter with veteran right-hander Ian Kennedy (6-7, 3.86). The Indians will enjoy an off day on Thursday before the take on the Orioles in a three-game series in Baltimore this weekend.