Royals' rally comes up short in series finale

June 26th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Less than 24 hours after the Royals launched a stunning five-run rally in the ninth to beat the Indians, they put another scare into the Tribe on Wednesday.

Cleveland bottled up the Royals’ offense for eight innings and led by four. The Royals once again stirred it up in the ninth, scoring two runs on 's third homer this season and a pinch-hit RBI single by .

The Royals had the tying run at the plate with two outs in , but he struck out to preserve the Indians’ 5-3 victory at Progressive Field.

“We were working in the ninth,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Their bullpen was a little strapped, too.”

The Royals didn’t get their first hit off Indians starter Trevor Bauer until there were two outs in the fifth, when Humberto Arteaga smacked a hard single into right field. Cam Gallagher followed with a single to right, then Billy Hamilton dropped a blooper down the left-field line for an RBI double.

Bauer struck out 12 through 6 2/3 innings. The Royals struck out 16 times on the day overall.

“His arm speed is really good,” Merrifield said. “He’s got like five or six pitches, and it’s hard to pick them up. And he throws 96 [mph]. He can be tough. We’ll see him again in [six] days. See if we can do better.”

Yost agreed, saying, “You got to take off your hat to Bauer. He threw 127 pitches, knowing they were strapped in the 'pen. Pretty good performance.

“He commands the ball really well. It just seems like he doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes, especially with that slider.”

The Indians pecked away at Royals' starter Jakob Junis from the start. Francisco Lindor led off the first with a single to right, then stole second and advanced to third on a bloop single by Carlos Santana. Lindor scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Kipnis.

Lindor was at it again in the third with a leadoff double. He scored on Oscar Mercado’s single to right-center.

And in the fourth, the Indians flexed their muscles a bit as Jake Bauers belted his 10th home run on a 1-2 fastball from Junis. Moments later, Tyler Naquin drilled a 3-2 fastball from Junis for his sixth home run to make it 4-0.

Junis has given up 18 home runs this season, and 50 since the start of the 2018 season, second most in the Majors, behind only Dylan Bundy’s 58.

“Jake made a couple of mistakes, and they hit it out of the ballpark again,” Yost said. “But he gave us six strong innings, and gave us a chance to win.”

Junis said his outing was just OK.

“Could have been better,” he said. “I wish I had that one to Bauers back. I was ahead in the count and just put it in a bad spot. The other one [to Naquin], I didn’t want to walk him.”