CLEVELAND -- One team meeting was not going to miraculously turn around the Indians' season, especially with two-plus months remaining on the schedule. For at least one game, Cleveland could at least claim that there was a renewed energy among the players in the home dugout.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, it was more of the same on the field on Monday night, where the Royals ambushed Cody Anderson early in the count and ran up the score early in handing the Indians a 9-4 loss in the series opener. It marked the fifth loss in a row for the reeling Tribe, which had a lengthy meeting on Sunday after a disheartening loss and four-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox.
If the Indians are going to rewrite the course of this season, it will take time, even as time appears to be running out.
"One day after the meeting, everyone is going to respond to it," veteran outfielder Michael Bourn said. "That's not the key to me. The key to me is like 15 days from now, how do we respond to it then? If we get on a little losing streak, we lose one, how we respond to it then? Of course, today, people are going to respond to it, because it's fresh.
"I think it's about the [longevity] of it, playing consistent baseball. That's all I look at. We haven't played consistent baseball and that's why we haven't been successful."
Over the course of the four-game brooming by Chicago, which now sits 2 1/2 games above the last-place Indians (45-53) in the American League Central, Cleveland was outscored, 26-5. The AL Central-leading Royals continued that trend, grabbing a 7-1 lead on Anderson through the first five innings. Anderson gave up a three-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the first and a solo shot to Omar Infante in the second.
Bourn said it was important for the Indians to avoid the mentality that infiltrated the dugout throughout the previous four games.
"That's the thing that you don't want to do," Bourn said. "You don't want to say, 'Here we go again.'"
Manager Terry Francona did not sense that on the bench this night.
"I thought we had good energy," Francona said. "We got out-played -- that's going to happen. We've got to show up every day and continue to try to get better in every area of the game, myself included. When you do that, it doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth. You feel like, 'OK, we'll come back tomorrow and we'll play again.'"
The extent of the on-field battle on Monday was a solo homer from Carlos Santana in the second inning and a three-run shot by rookie Francisco Lindor in the seventh. Cleveland's offensive issues still manifested in the form of a 2-for-7 showing with runners in scoring position, including a missed chance with the bases loaded in the second, and eight baserunners stranded.
Those are not the results Cleveland was looking for after the players spoke their minds in the clubhouse after Sunday's defeat.
"I didn't talk that much. I just asked them to talk," Francona said of that meeting. "They know how I feel. Me and the coaches, we talk all day, every day. I just wanted the players, I wanted them to voice some of their opinions."
For at least one game, the players felt a difference.
"It felt better -- a lot better. Guys were cheering each other on," Lindor said. "This is not one man's team. It's a 25-man roster and we all are pulling for one goal, and that's being in the playoffs and winning in the playoffs. ... It felt tough [the past few days]. It felt a little odd in the dugout, but today, the energy was there."
The Indians are hoping more wins will follow.
"We just have to find a way to turn it around," Bourn said. "We probably have a little over two months left. We'll try to find a way to fight from here."