KANSAS CITY -- With his right shoulder encased in ice, Indians closer Cody Allen walked through the visitors' clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night and he motioned for reporters to meet him at his locker. Allen might not have had answers, but he was going to be accountable.The latest
KANSAS CITY -- With his right shoulder encased in ice, Indians closer Cody Allen walked through the visitors' clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night and he motioned for reporters to meet him at his locker. Allen might not have had answers, but he was going to be accountable.
The latest ninth-inning meltdown for the club's all-time saves leader was fast and furious. In a span of four pitches, Royals rookies Ryan O'Hearn and Hunter Dozier connected for back-to-back home runs to hand the Tribe a stunning 5-4 walk-off loss and ignite an on-field party at home plate.
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"I just flat-out got beat twice," Allen said. "I really don't know what to tell you."
This marked the first time in MLB history that two rookies hit consecutive homers to tie and win a game in the ninth inning or later, according to Elias Sports Bureau. It was the first time Kansas City had back-to-back homers in a walk-off win since Sept. 15, 2012. Cleveland had not lost in that fashion since Sept. 4, 1964, when Pete Ward and Bill Skowron each went deep for the White Sox.
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The Indians last won in that fashion on Aug. 19, 2016, when Jose Ramirez hit a game-tying shot against the Blue Jays and Tyler Naquin followed with an inside-the-parker.
Historic footnotes aside, Friday's defeat was the latest bit of turbulence in a rocky season for Allen. He currently owns a 4.55 ERA after posting a 2.59 mark across the 2013-17 campaigns. The two homers surrendered against the Royals gave him a career-high 11 allowed this season.
"It's been a big grind this year," said Allen, whose 147 saves are the most in Indians history. "It's come in waves. The last couple of weeks, I felt we were making some headway, headed in the right direction. And then the last few times out, I've been pretty hittable. So, I just have to continue to try and make adjustments.
"If I keep doing this, then I'm not going to be pitching in big spots. Or, make adjustments and start missing bats and go from there."
Allen took over in the ninth with a 4-3 lead, which was provided by a two-run homer from Yonder Alonso in the eighth inning. That go-ahead blast off Royals reliever Brandon Maurer was Alonso's 22nd of the season and the second on the night for the first baseman. Those shots allowed starter Mike Clevinger to walk away with a no-decision.
In the ninth, Allen's first pitch was a 92.9 mph fastball elevated in the zone and outside against the lefty-swinging O'Hearn. The first baseman went after the pitch, slicing it the opposite way for a tying home run.
"That's a pitch I was trying to make up there," Allen said. "That guy, he's shown some swing and miss up there. My fastball plays well at the top of the zone."
After O'Hearn completed his trot around the bases, Allen's first pitch to Dozier was a high-and-tight curveball that slipped away from his fingertips and sailed wildly to the backstop. The already-buzzing crowd groaned in response.
Two pitches later, Allen went back to the high heat and Dozier was ready for it. Like O'Hearn, the third baseman sent the pitch the other way to right-center, where the ball carried just over the wall.
"They just went up and got them," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's disappointing, but we'll go look at it more just to see if there's anything."
After Allen allowed nine runs in four appearances from July 10-20, Francona started to mix and match more from the seventh inning on. Lefty Brad Hand began sharing the ninth-inning duties and Allen responded to the change in use by spinning a 0.73 ERA over 11 games, lowing his ERA to 3.98 from 4.99 in that stretch.
In his past three outings, though, Allen has given up four runs on six hits in two innings.
"That point where we started kind of putting him in situations, I thought it really helped him," Francona said. "And I'll sit down and talk to him again, because we need him. We can't run from Cody. We need him really bad to win. So, we'll visit a little bit."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Plenty of Sunshine: Clevinger was sporting colorful Jimi Hendrix spikes for Players' Weekend and sported the nickname "Sunshine" on the back of his jersey. With his long locks whipping around his shoulders, the Royals looked dazed and confused after the first inning. Clevinger allowed a three-run homer to Salvador Perez in the first, but he held Kansas City to a 2-for-20 showing with eight strikeouts over the rest of his six innings.
"I went back to competing," Clevinger said. "I think I just started out a little sluggish and thinking about the wrong things, and paid for it. I think I got back to the right mindset, trying to attack the strike zone and compete and be athletic, versus thinking anything pitching."
G-Rag race: Indians rookie Greg Allen (G-Rag) used his legs to help create the Indians' first run of the game. Allen singled to center to open the third inning. Then, the fleet-footed center fielder stole second, tagged up and sprinted to third on a flyout to left, and he later headed home on a single by Michael Brantley (Junior).
"As long as he's safe," said Francona, when asked if he liked Allen's aggressiveness. "Now, it ended up [working out]. The tag going to third, it looked like he saw the ball and play really well. That ends up being really heads up, because it gives us a run."
Moments after Yan Gomes doubled to left with two out in the fourth inning, players began pointing and peering out toward the right-field warning track. A water pipe broke and caused a significant amount of flooding on the field, resulting in a 30-minute delay while crews worked to stop the flow and clean the mess. Following the bizarre interruption, Allen struck out to strand Gomes at second base. More >
"I felt like I was back in the Minor Leagues," Francona said. "Nobody knew what was going on."
In the Tribe's dugout, players were joking that Alonso's first home run to right field must have hit a pipe.
"Oops," Alonso said. "I hope I don't get a bill."
HE SAID IT
"He's the career saves leader in the history of the Indians. I think he knows [how to get back on track]. There's never a doubt. He knows he's in the process of figuring himself out, figuring some minor mechanical things out himself. We all know it's going to be there. He has it in him. He's done it plenty of years before." --Clevinger, on Cody Allen
Indians ace Corey Kluber (16-6, 2.74 ERA) will continue his bid for a third American League Cy Young Award at 7:15 p.m. ET on Saturday against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Kluber is 8-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 12 road starts this season, and he is 11-6 with a 2.90 ERA in 22 career games against the Royals. Kansas City will counter with righty Heath Fillmyer (1-1, 4.57 ERA).
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 Facebook.