Royals aren't feeling grand after loss to Tribe
Chisenhall's slam swings things in sixth as KC drops fourth in a row
CLEVELAND -- Now the path to the All-Star break, for Kansas City, is becoming littered with losses.
The Royals lost their fourth straight game on Saturday night, 5-3, to the Cleveland Indians as 29,740 fans soaked in a delightful 76-degree evening topped off by fireworks at Progressive Field. The second-place Indians are now 1 1/2 games behind Detroit atop the American League Central standings.
The Royals sank to seven games off the pace in the division. Not a good trend for a KC team looking for happy thoughts over the four days of down time.
"Obviously, we don't want to do this," said Royals left fielder Alex Gordon. "This was a big series and after the All-Star break it's a big series [against Detroit] and we knew that. So, we can't get too down. I know guys are upset about this game and the last game, but tomorrow is a big game, too. We know we've got the break coming up and we've got to play nine innings as hard as we can and salvage a win out of this series."
This game was settled in the Indians' sixth inning, when Lonnie Chisenhall hammered a grand slam off Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie.
The Indians did it with some old-fashioned flair. They were decked out in the collared, dark blue, white-belted uniforms in the style worn by the 1902 Cleveland Bronchos who, according to historical records, played at some five ballparks in town including one called the Jailhouse Flats.
The Royals didn't get the memo about the old-time apparel and were attired in their 2013 travel grays.
In the absence of Napoleon Lajoie, Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera got things moving against Guthrie with back-to-back singles in the third inning. A wild pitch moved Cabrera to second base, but the Indians mustered just one run. Jason Kipnis' sacrifice fly scored Bourn.
The Bronchos-Indians had more mischief up their dark blue sleeves in the sixth inning. Kipnis singled and went to third on Michael Brantley's one-out double. That prompted the Royals to intentionally walk Carlos Santana to load the bases.
"You've got a tough decision there because Santana has got 51 walks," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "I mean, you can pitch around the guy but he's going to take a walk and if you make a mistake, he's going to make you pay. So I thought our best chance of getting out of the inning and holding it at one was intentionally walking him. Of course, that's a lot of extra pressure on the pitcher, especially with the bases loaded."
Next, Guthrie struck out Jason Giambi ... but, wait a minute.
On Guthrie's next pitch, a hanging curveball, Chisenhall lifted a drive into the right-field seats for a grand slam, the first of his career, and a 5-0 score.
"It's a good feeling," Chisenhall said. "It's probably the best one of my career so far, especially it being a grand slam -- my first grand slam, too. It was kind of a big game."
As Guthrie was being interrogated by reporters afterward, Guthrie was asked if he knew the curveball he unleashed was going to ...
"That it was going to go 400 feet?" Guthrie interrupted. "I could not tell until he hit it. I was unaware until it was about 370 feet down the right-field line. That's when I realized it might go out."
The Royals finally broke through in the seventh to snap a string of 22 innings without scoring. That began with the last seven innings of Thursday's 8-4 loss at Yankee Stadium and continued in Friday night's 3-0 loss in Cleveland.
Indians left-hander Scott Kazmir issued two walks to start the inning and after Mike Moustakas fouled out, the Tribe switched to right-handed reliever Matt Albers. Miguel Tejada confounded that strategy by pulling a single to left field, scoring Perez.
Albers got the second out and intentionally walked Gordon to load the bases. Alcides Escobar hit a bouncer to shortstop but hustling down the line was able to beat Cabrera's throw. Surprisingly, that infield hit scored two runs, Lorenzo Cain loping in from third base and Tejada streaking around from second.
"The way I hit the ball, I thought I had time to get an infield hit and I hustled and beat the play," Escobar said. "Miggy made a great play -- he was flying. I was surprised when I saw that -- oh, I got two?"
Tejada, the wise old veteran, was ready to roll.
"I was prepared for something like that," Tejada said. "The guy pitching [Albers] was a hard sinker guy and I was ready for Esky hitting something on the ground. I was going on 3-2 and I just tried to make something happen. When you've gone 22 innings without scoring a run, you've got to force it."
But that was all the Royals would get.
Guthrie got through seven innings and 114 pitches, giving ample credit to outfielders Gordon and Cain for their defensive efforts.
With two on and one out in the first inning, Gordon charged toward the left-field line and dove to catch Nick Swisher's looper.
"The guy sliced it down the line. I didn't know it was fair until I checked it on the video," Gordon said. "The only play I had was to lay out. Kipnis dropped one right in there before and I was going all out on this one. I didn't want two to drop like that to start off the game."
"Great defense," Guthrie said. "Gordo saved two, three runs in the first inning and Lorenzo made great plays all the way around. We've played great defense all year long and I've benefited every time from it."
Even so, the Royals came out on the losing side and stand 2-4 on this trip with one game remaining. Over a crucial 20-game stretch in which they face five tough winning teams, they're 5-7.
The Royals opened the seven-game trip with two victories over the Yankees before things went sour.
"We started out playing well on this road trip and hopefully we can finish playing well," Gordon said.