The Cleveland Indians utilized a well rounded effort on Labor Day to capture a win over the Kansas City Royals to kickoff the series.
After a scoreless first frame, the Cleveland Indians were able to get on the board to take an early lead over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night in the bottom of the second.
A fielder’s choice off the bat of Tyler Naquin was able to push Carlos Santana home to give the Indians the first run of the game. In the next at-bat another out resulted in a run as Josh Naylor grounded out, but Franmil Reyes was able to score to push the lead to 2-0.
From that point, the game turned over to Zach Plesac who once again was dominating on the mound for Cleveland. In just the first five innings, Plesac struck out four Royals while pitching a shutout over those five frames.
In the fourth inning the Indians were able to extend their lead again. It was again a ball off of Naquin’s bat that resulted in a run for Cleveland. He was able to knock a sacrifice fly to the outfield to bring in Francisco Lindor to increase the score to 3-0.
It wasn’t until the sixth inning that something noteworthy happened, and it was something that you don’t see. On a hit and run, Lindor lost sight of the ball and missed touching second base, resulting in the first out of the inning, rather than having runners on second and third with no outs or maybe even a run. A double play would soon end the inning with the lead stuck at 3-0.
The Royals then were able to put something other than a zero on the scoreboard. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Adalberto Mondesi ripped a long home run to trim the Tribe’s lead to 3-1.
The Cleveland Indians quickly answered back in the bottom half of the inning. After smooth base running by Naylor to put himself on third, Oscar Mercado hit a ball that was logged as an infield single that brought Naylor in to regain the three-run advantage, but the Indians weren’t done yet.
A sacrifice fly off the bat of Mike Freeman, who entered for Jose Ramirez during the game, brought in Roberto Perez to extend the score to 5-1. It also brought a change on the mound for Kansas City as they replaced starting pitcher Brad Keller.
The Indians also made a pitching change, calling on Adam Cimber in the top of the eighth inning. In just his second start of the season at Progressive Field, Plesac lasted seven innings, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out four batters, all of which came in the first four innings of the game.
Cimber recorded an out before Hunter Dozier laced a triple off the wall. Mercado ran into the wall on the play, allowing Dozier to continue to third. A single from Maikel Franco brought Dozier in to score and ended the short outing for Cimber with Phil Maton being called on from the bullpen. Maton was able to work out of the inning with the score at just 5-2.
After an uneventful bottom of the eighth, Brad Hand entered in the ninth for Cleveland to secure his major league-leading 12th save of the season and the 5-2 victory for the Tribe. In his one inning of work, Hand sent the Royals down with a strikeout looking followed by swinging strikeout and concluded with another strikeout looking, all done on just 15 pitches.
The win improved the Indians’ record to 26-15 while the Royals fell to 14-28. The win also ties Cleveland with the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central lead as the White Sox had the day off. Chicago will begin a series with Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
On Deck: The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals will return to the diamond on Tuesday night for the second game of the series set for a 6:10 p.m. EST first pitch. It will be a familiar matchup as Kansas City is set to throw Jakob Junis while the Indians will run out rookie Tristan McKenzie.