You read that right. The KC Royals are currently percentage points ahead of the Cleveland Indians for second place in the American League Central. That is all because of their 2-1 win in Cleveland tonight.
Despite being in trouble all night (like bases loaded jams twice before the 5th inning), James Shields was only losing 1-0 when he left after six innings. He allowed four hits and four walks while striking five. He needed 111 pitches to get through six innings. The Indians lone run came via Carlos Santana‘s homerun in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (who hasn’t pitched well in limited starts this season) kept the Royals offense silent for most of the game. Lorenzo Cain‘s one out single in the fifth was the Royals first hit (and baserunner) off Carrasco. He was pulled with one runner on second base and one out in the 8th inning.
Bryan Shaw entered and recorded the second out before Eric Hosmer blooped a double to no man’s land over the shortstop’s head to tie the game at 1-1.
After Bruce Chen recorded the first out in the bottom of the eighth, Aaron Crow entered and allowed a single to Mark Reynolds. He stole second base and went to third on Salvador Perez‘ throwing error (though Crow recorded the strikeout). With the go ahead run on third base, Crow rebounded to strike out Ryan Rabun to end the inning.
The 9th inning was a wild one.
Billy Butler led off the inning with a double and Elliot Johnson pinch ran. After Cain walked, Shaw was relieved by lefty Rich Hill. Manager Ned Yost stuck with David Lough (instead of pinch-hitting the right-handed Jeff Francoeur) and it paid off. Lough laid down a bunt and Hill slipped trying to field it. Everyone was safe to load the bases with no outs.
Miguel Tejada was called on to pinch-hit for the ever-struggling Mike Moustakas and Indians manager Terry Francona countered with righty Matt Albers. Albers‘ third pitch was a wild one and Johnson scampered home to break the tie. Albers rebounded to get Tejada to line out, but the Indians elected to intentionally walk Chris Getz (yup, you read that right). Alcides Escobar tried to lay down a squeeze, but failed and Cain was thrown out at the plate. Alex Gordon flied out to end the inning.
Closer Greg Holland allowed a one out double to Michael Bourn and then wild pitched him to third base. He rebounded to strike out former Royal Mike Aviles and then got Jason Kipnis to ground out to end the game.
The series continues on Tuesday night as Ervin Santana goes up against the suddenly stellar Ubaldo Jimenez.
*Felipe Paulino‘s rehab has hit a snag with some back issues. He has made just one start so far.