Of the club’s final 23 games, the Indians faced one opponent – the Kansas City Royals – with a winning record. It looked like Cleveland was a prime contender to waltz into the playoffs as one of the AL Wild Card winners, especially given that KC’s record was worse than that of the Tribe’s. And, yet, of the final six games against the Royals, the Indians eked out just two wins.
Last night’s disappointing loss to soft-tossing southpaw Bruce Chen knocked the Indians’ playoff chances to down to 54.5% according to ESPN.
Chen, who garnered Tom Glavine-like comparisons coming up through the Atlanta farm system in the 1990s, scattered four hits and one walk through five innings of work. Tribe rookie starter Danny Salazar, on the other hand, coughed up four runs in six innings, three of which came in the first.
Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar and catcher Sal Perez were responsible for most of KC’s offense last night. Perez, who doubled home Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler in the first inning, would later score on a Salazar wild pitch. Perez would finish the night 1-for-4 with a pair of runs and RBIs.
Escobar, who went 2-for-4, was credited with a steal of home in the bottom of the fifth inning. With runners on the corners and one out, left fielder Alex Gordon attempted to steal second base. Tribe catcher Yan Gomes double-clutched his throw to second, and Escobar would score during the resulting run down.
Kansas City would tack on three more runs before the end of the night, two off of rookie right-hander C.C. Lee (one earned, though) and the final coming off of southpaw Nick Hagadone.
As for the Tribe offense, the bats continued their post-All Star break swoon. The Indians scratched out five hits, only one of which was for extra-bases.
With the final 10 games remaining coming against some of the worst teams in baseball (Astros, White Sox and Twins), the Indians’ hopes for a playoff spot still remain quite high. Resurgent team ace Ubaldo Jimenez takes on Dallas Keuchel tonight. Game time is 7:05.