Thanks to another solid pitching performance by ace Corey Kluber and the doubles-banging offensive trio of Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez, and Jason Kipnis, the Indians beat the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field on Wednesday for the second straight evening. The 4-3 victory lowered the Tribe’s magic number for clinching the AL Central division title to five.
Kluber (18-9, 3.11 ERA) went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs, both earned. He walked two and struck out nine. His only rough patch happened in the third inning, when he gave up four consecutive singles after retiring the first two batters. That barrage of base hits gave the Royals a 2-1 lead. But it wouldn’t last long, as the Indians connected for three doubles and two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. They tacked on an insurance run in the eighth, and that turned out to be necessary, as Royals catcher Salvador Perez greeted Tribe closer Cody Allen with a solo homer to begin the ninth inning, making the score 4-3. Allen walked the next batter, and Terrance Gore came in as a pinch-runner. Gore was expected to try to steal second base, and he tried to do so, but a perfect throw to second by Indians catcher Roberto Perez nailed Gore for the first out. Allen retired the next two Royals to notch his 28th save.
The Indians knocked out 13 hits, six of them doubles (one from Santana, two from Kipnis, and three from Ramirez). They left 10 runners stranded on base, so it’s not as though they took advantage of every scoring opportunity. They were a sad 4 for 17 with runners in scoring position. But as Satchel Paige used to say, all’s well that ends well. The series concludes tomorrow with another 7:10 PM game. Mike Clevinger will start for the Tribe.
The Wednesday evening game between the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins was rained out in the third inning. The two teams will play a day-night doubleheader on Thursday. With a little luck and some cooperation from the Baseball Gods, the Indians’ magic number could fall to two by Thursday evening.