Tribe Falls to Royals 5-2; Three Takeaways From The Loss
It was a packed house of 30,920 fans on Saturday for Jose Ramirez bobblehead night and the unveiling of the brand new Frank Robinson statue at Heritage Park.
While it was a beautiful day for baseball, unfortunately for the Tribe, they picked up their third straight loss as they fell to the Kansas City Royals, 5-2.
While the Tribe held on to a 2-1 lead for the middle third of the game, the marathon that was the top of the sixth inning would prove to be their undoing.
Danny Salazar picked up the loss for Cleveland, his fifth of the year.
With the second straight loss to the Royals, the Indians are now 2-6 in series played at Progressive Field this year, and 8-13 in home games overall. They remain only one game above .500, 24-23.
As the Tribe looks to avoid getting swept by Kansas City tomorrow, here are our three takeaways from Saturday's 5-2 decision.
1. Sixth Inning Woes
The Indians gained a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning, and held onto that lead all the way into the top of the sixth. That’s when the tables flipped and the Royals gained a 4-2 edge over the Tribe.
The damage would be done as the Royals methodically worked their way through their entire batting order.
Jorge Bonifacio got things started for Kansas City with a double. After Danny Salazar walked Brandon Moss and Whit Merrifield to load the bases, Terry Francona brought in Boone Logan to face one batter.
After he gave up the game-tying single to Alex Gordon, Francona again opted for a pitching change, bringing in Nick Goody.
Goody gave up a double to Alcides Escobar that ultimately gave the Royals a 4-2 lead, before Goody worked his way out of the inning with two strikeouts.
Before this point in the game, the Indians seemed to have momentum on their side, especially since Royals manager Ned Yost and first baseman Eric Hosmer were both ejected in the top of the first inning for arguing with home plate umpire Bill Welke.
Afterwards, however, it became clear that the Indians could not get the run support that they desperately needed. The final run of the game would come from a solo homer hit by Mike Moustakas in the top of the ninth.
2. Salazar’s Continued Struggles
With the loss, Salazar dropped to 3-5 on the year with a 5.50 ERA.
Salazar is now 7-7 against the Royals in his career, and 0-2 against them in 2017 (his first loss came on May 5 in Kansas City).
All three of Salazar’s earned runs came in the sixth inning today, while he only gave up one unearned run in the first on a sacrifice fly from Salvador Perez that plated Escobar.
Salazar also gave up five walks and notched only four strikeouts in his five and one-third innings. He has now gone five straight games without completing six innings.
"I'm working on some things and I'm feeling better on the mound. I think I still need to work on the walks, and focus in more on home plate," Salazar said.
What made this game so atypical for Salazar is the fact that throughout 2017 he has usually struggled early and then has gone on to find his footing in later innings.
Coming in to Saturday, Salazar had an 8.0 ERA in innings 1-2, but that number was nearly cut in half to 4.03 in innings 3-7.
"I still think he didn't command the ball where he wanted to," Francona said when asked about Salazar's performance.
"We'll kind of put our heads together and kind of see what's the next best step for him. Because I think he's probably searching a little bit too.
So what does this mean for Salazar as the season progresses? Francona was asked if there is a possibility that he could move to the bullpen as Corey Kluber works his way back into the rotation. While it was pretty clear that he didn't like the question, he didn't give a definitive answer one way or the other.
"Not in [the interview room] right now. I think we want to sit down and talk through things, because we want to help," Francona said.
"We want to help him, we want to help our team, but that's not the proper way to ever make a decision is in here and you guys could go tell him. That's not how we would do things."
3. Hitting Streaks Continue
Some bright spots in the Tribe’s day came in the first two innings.
Francisco Lindor’s homer in the bottom of the first tied the game at one, but it did more than just keep the Tribe’s offense from being derailed early.
Lindor’s 11th homer of the year extended his personal hit streak to 12 games. It also made Saturday the 12th straight game the Indians have homered. That makes it the longest home run streak for Cleveland since July of the 2008 season.
Immediately following Lindor, Michael Brantley recorded a single of his own, making it an 11-game hit streak for him.
Lindor is now batting .283 on the year, while Brantley is batting .294.