The Indians and Royals hoped to beat the rain and get the final game of their four game series in today. They were able to get enough in for it to be an official game, but unfortunately for the Royals, the Indians made it rain home run ball on the way to a four game sweep of the defending world champions.
The Indians struck early in the bottom of the first when Jason Kipnis hit his second triple of the season, and scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Francisco Lindor. The Indians may be getting by with a patchwork outfield, but their middle infield has been as good as advertised, and both men should be under consideration to be named to next month’s All-Star Game in San Diego.
Speaking of potential All-Stars, Mike Napoli has been everything the Indians could have hoped for when they signed him, and more. In the bottom of the fourth, Napoli hit what look like a pop up to right field that somehow cleared the fence for Napoli’s 14th home run. At that point, Napoli ranked fifth in the American League in home runs, and first among first basemen. It’s a long shot that he would make the All Star Roster as he ranks just 11th in the A.L. in WAR at his position, but he has at least put himself in the discussion after looking like he might have been on his way out of baseball last season.
The Indians continued to add on to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning in a big way when Tyler Naquin hit a home run off the second deck in right field to make it 3-0. This was Naquin’s third home run of the year, and third straight game with a home run after not hitting any out during his first stint with the Tribe. After a Juan Uribe groundout to third base, Carlos Santana hit a solo shot that was almost identical to Naquin’s. Santana’s tenth blast of the year made it 4-0 Indians. Two batters later, Francisco Lindor his yet another bomb to right field for his sixth home run of the year to make it 5-0. At this point, the Royals began to get the bullpen going as starter Chris Young’s day was done.
Meanwhile Corey Kluber was absolutely dealing. Kluber started strong, and got better as the game went on, striking out the side in the fourth inning, and allowing just three baserunners while striking out six in the first five innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Kluber fought through a leadoff walk and stolen base by Jarrod Dyson—as well as an imminent thunderstorm—to finish his day with his sixth scoreless inning by fielding a grounder by Eric Hosmer and throwing him out at first. The tarp was then immediately placed on the field and the rain delay began.
After what seemed like three or four hundred years, the game resumed with the Indians batting in the bottom of the sixth. It took an inning, but the scoring continued for the Tribe in the bottom of the seventh inning. Naquin doubled and stole third base, Juan Uribe walked, and Carlos Santana singled to left to score Naquin. Michael Martinez, pinch running for Uribe, then advanced to third on a fielder’s choice by Kipnis, and scored on a double down the right field line by Lindor to make it 7-0 in the Indians’ favor. Zach McAllister gave the Indians two perfect innings of relief, while Austin Adams allowed a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth to Alcides Escobar before retiring the next three batters to finish it out and complete the sweep as the Tribe took a 1.5 game lead in the Central Division.
The Indians begin a 10-game road trip tomorrow night in Seattle, and will play 20 of their next 26 games on the road. This is the kind of tough stretch that can test any team, but this team seems up to the task. Every time they seem to be going off the rails, they regroup and go on a winning streak that puts them right back in contention. Winning teams have resiliency, and this Indians team seems to be as resilient as they come.