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Timely hits back Bauer as Tribe blanks Royals

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Jay Bruce continued his sizzling start with the Indians by hitting an RBI double, and catcher Roberto Perez delivered a two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning as the Indians held off the Royals, 5-0, on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Indians, who improved to 8-2 on the road trip, moved 7 1/2 games ahead of the Royals in the American League Central and remained six games ahead of the second-place Twins, who beat the D-backs on Saturday. The Royals are 1 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card chase.

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KANSAS CITY -- Jay Bruce continued his sizzling start with the Indians by hitting an RBI double, and catcher Roberto Perez delivered a two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning as the Indians held off the Royals, 5-0, on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Indians, who improved to 8-2 on the road trip, moved 7 1/2 games ahead of the Royals in the American League Central and remained six games ahead of the second-place Twins, who beat the D-backs on Saturday. The Royals are 1 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card chase.

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"It can look daunting," Indians manager Terry Francona said of his team's current 11-game trip. "And there's no reason to think like that. You just show up and play. We'll do the same thing tomorrow. Hopefully we play a good game and then get home, because it has been a long time."

Right-hander Trevor Bauer delivered his fifth straight quality start for the Tribe. He threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings and gave up seven hits while walking two and striking out four. Bauer now has a 1.54 ERA over his past five starts for the Indians.

Video: CLE@KC: Bauer fans four in 6 1/3 scoreless vs. Royals

"He made some pitches," Francona said. "He had some good defense behind him, he was working quick and throwing strikes. He doesn't back down. In big situations, he's kind of coming through more often than not. I think a lot of it is just because he likes competing."

Cerebral Bauer unable to explain recent success

Bruce, since being acquired from the Mets, is 14-for-36 (.389) with five doubles and three home runs. Perez, meanwhile, belted a bases-loaded single off Royals left-hander Jason Vargas in the fourth, giving the Indians a 3-0 lead.

Video: CLE@KC: Bruce rips an RBI double down the line

Vargas lasted only 4 2/3 innings and gave up six hits and four runs.

Video: CLE@KC: Vargas freezes Lindor to open the 3rd inning

"You're in a position with a couple of series [against Cleveland] close together when you can close the gap," Vargas said. "And we did just the opposite. But there's a lot of talent in this room. When we get on a good run, we're still a hard team to beat."

Vargas' luck runs out vs. Tribe offense

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Big double play: The Royals were threatening against Bauer in the sixth when Mike Moustakas doubled with one out and Brandon Moss coaxed a walk on a 3-2 changeup. Shortstop Alcides Escobar also ran the count full, fouled off three pitches, then chopped a routine 4-6-3 double play to Jason Kipnis at second base, ending the rally.

Video: CLE@KC: Bauer gets Escobar to ground into double play

"He swings a lot early, so I threw my best offspeed pitch," Bauer said. "And then I threw him a couple really good cutters that just barely missed the zone. He was kind of leaning out there. So he's basically telling me that he was slowing down, looking for something offspeed. Once I knew that, I was like, 'All right, I'm going to throw fastballs and make you hit that until you show me that you're speeding up.'

"He didn't. I threw him two. He fouled them off. It didn't look like he sped up very much. It seemed like he was still looking for offspeed, so I stayed hard."

Tough luck: The Royals, trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, appeared poised to jump on Bauer quickly. Lorenzo Cain ripped a double off Bruce's glove in right-center. Eric Hosmer then crushed a liner toward the right-field corner that first baseman Carlos Santana snared for the second out. Hosmer's shot had an exit velocity of 107 mph, per Statcast™, with an 82-percent hit probability. Melky Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.

Video: CLE@KC: Santana makes a superb jumping grab on liner

Hosmer had similar bad luck in the fifth when with two on and two out, he again lined out (104 mph) to Santana, ending the inning.

Video: CLE@KC: Bauer gets Hosmer to lineout to strand pair

"We smoked some balls," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "[Alex Gordon] hit a ball down the third-base line foul that would have scored a run with [Escobar] running. Hosmer smoked two balls right to the first baseman. We just couldn't find a hole."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Indians starting pitchers have held opposing teams to one or zero runs in 10 of the team's last 12 games.

WHAT'S NEXT
Indians: Danny Salazar (5-5, 3.92 ERA) will look to stay on a roll when he takes on the Royals in a 2:15 p.m. ET tilt Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. The hard-throwing right-hander has a 1.39 ERA with 46 strikeouts in his past four starts (32 1/3 innings).

Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (5-9, 4.74 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals on Sunday in the series finale at 1:15 p.m. CT. Hammel gave up four runs on eight hits over six innings last Tuesday against the A's.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.