Tomlin pitches complete game but Indians lose 2-0
CLEVELAND (AP) Josh Tomlin wouldn't take any satisfaction in going the distance against the AL's best team, the presumed Central champions.
The Indians needed more from him, and Tomlin felt he let them down.
''I'm glad I was able to keep the team in the game, don't get me wrong, but we need wins, and that's the bottom line,'' Tomlin said following Cleveland's 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night. ''It doesn't matter how well I pitch, if their guy does better than me on the other side then it's still a loss. And that's not what we need right now.''
Cleveland's climb in the wild-card race was slowed by the Royals, who got a strong outing from Kris Medlen (4-1) and a homer from Alex Rios off Tomlin in the fifth that launched some unintentional fireworks.
Medlen (4-1) blanked Cleveland into the seventh before Royals manager Ned Yost turned things over to his top-ranked bullpen. Ryan Madson struck out two in the seventh, Wade Davis got through the eighth and closer Greg Holland worked around a two-on, no-out mess he created in the ninth for his 31st save.
The Indians had first and second with no outs when pinch-hitter Mike Aviles failed to get down a sacrifice bunt, popping the ball up to Holland, who dropped it but got a force at third. Abraham Almonte then popped out, and the runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch before Holland struck out rookie Giovanny Urshela to end Cleveland's rally.
The Indians, who pulled back to .500 for just the second time since April by winning the series opener, fell to 13-6 since Aug. 25. They came in 4 1-2 games behind Texas for the second wild card.
It was a hard-luck loss for Tomlin, who had won his previous five starts. The right-hander gave up two runs and four hits in his second complete game this month. After giving up Rios' homer, Tomlin retired 13 of 14.
He should have been out of the second inning without giving up a run, but the Indians failed to catch Mike Moustaskas' foul pop behind the plate with two outs.
Catcher Yan Gomes yanked off his mask, and looked skyward but couldn't locate the high pop, which fell untouched about 15 feet from the batter's box as Tomlin and third baseman Urshela helplessly looked on.
''It was kind of a crazy hour of the night that the ball gets kind of lost up there every now and then,'' Tomlin said. ''I saw Yan didn't see it and looked up, and then I lost it. Neither one of us had a shot at that point.''
Moustakas made the Indians pay by following with a double off the wall in center field and scored on Salvador Perez's clutch hit.
Rios put the Royals ahead 2-0 with two outs in the fifth by hitting his fourth homer, a shot onto the pedestrian patio in left that prompted an accidental celebration in Progressive Field. As Rios rounded first, fireworks exploded above the ballpark, a tradition usually reserved for any homer hit by an Indians player.
TV cameras caught the fireworks technician with his hands clutching his head after his quick-trigger mistake, which prompted a chorus of boos from the small crowd.
''It was nice,'' Rios joked about the unexpected explosion. ''It's the first time that's happened to me in a road game. When I heard all the screams, it crossed my mind that they somehow called it foul. It shook me a little bit. It caught me off-guard. When I was rounding second, I heard people screaming and that's when I thought something happened, but it's all good.''
With an 0-for-4 night, second baseman Jason Kipnis is batting .190 (19 for 100) since coming off the 15-day DL on Aug. 17. He was sidelined with a sore right shoulder and hasn't found his swing since coming back.
The Indians lead the majors with 10 complete games.
Indians: Ace Corey Kluber has been cleared to start Thursday's series finale against Yordano Ventura after being sidelined with a right hamstring injury. Kluber did some infield drills before Tuesday's game and was cleared by Cleveland's medical staff. The reigning Cy Young Award winner has been out since Aug. 29.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar will make his third start this season against the first-place Royals. He's 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA. In his last start, Salazar surpassed 175 strikeouts, the third Cleveland pitcher to reach that plateau in 2015.