KANSAS CITY -- At the end of the night, the scoreboard read 4-0 Royals, but that score in no way is indicative of how close this game was for six innings on Friday, before one play -- decided by just a matter of inches, if that -- tilted the contest
KANSAS CITY -- At the end of the night, the scoreboard read 4-0 Royals, but that score in no way is indicative of how close this game was for six innings on Friday, before one play -- decided by just a matter of inches, if that -- tilted the contest in favor of Kansas City.
With a runner on third and two out in a scoreless game, Lorenzo Cain hit a dribbler to the left of the pitcher's mound. As Alcides Escobar raced home from third base, Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin pounced on the ball, pivoted and threw a bullet to first, seemingly nabbing the swift Cain for the third out of the inning.
The Indians raced off the field in jubilation, but Royals manager Ned Yost challenged the play, which was then overturned, giving Kansas City a 1-0 lead that starter Jason Vargas made hold up with his first shutout since Aug. 13, 2014.
"It looked like we weren't going to score there in the [sixth] inning," Yost said. "But luckily for instant replay, we got that call reversed and gave us that one run."
Tomlin said if he had gotten to the ball quicker, he knew Cain, who finished the game 2-for-4, would have been out and the run wouldn't have scored.
"I know it was a close play," Tomlin said. "Then I saw it on the board and it looked like he clearly beat it. It was just a tough play."
Perhaps lost in the moment was the heads-up baserunning of Escobar. After singling with one out, he advanced to second on Tomlin's first wild pitch of the season and then took third when Mike Moustakas grounded out to Tomlin, which put Esocbar in position to score on Cain's dribbler.
Tomlin regrouped and retired Eric Hosmer to close out the sixth, but then he surrendered a run in the seventh on an RBI double by Whit Merrifield and was lifted after a solo home run by Moustakas in the eighth en route to falling to 3-7.
But it all started with a bang-bang play at first, the result of Escobar's exemplary baserunning and Cain's hustle down the line.
"He was safe," Escobar said of Cain. "Of course."
Wilson Alexander is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.