By Jordan Bastian and Scott Chasen
MLB.com |@MLBastian |
CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor slid headfirst across home plate, then jumped to his feet and threw his helmet into the air. On a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli, the Indians shortstop scored the winning run to send the Tribe to a 5-4 walk-off victory over the Royals on Thursday night at Progressive Field.
"It's always fun," Lindor said. "It's always good to have moments like this, so we can continue to believe in ourselves. We can continue to push and we can continue to motivate each other, push each other and know that the game's not over until the 27th out."
Cleveland's ninth-inning comeback against Joakim Soria -- marking the team's second straight walk-off win -- spoiled a solid outing by Royals starter Yordano Ventura and snapped Kansas City's six-game winning streak. Royals closer Wade Davis was unavailable to pitch due to a recent heavy workload.
The ninth-inning rally began with a base hit by Carlos Santana, who hustled to second when right fielder Paulo Orlando bobbled the ball for the Royals' third error of the evening. Lindor then pulled a pitch from Soria past a diving Orlando and to the wall in right-center field, sliding into third for a game-tying RBI triple.
"You don't see that happen very often," Indians manager Terry Francona said of the Royals' errors. "But I also think Carlos put himself in a position where maybe he kind of helped the miscue, because if you don't push it, that doesn't happen."
For the Royals, Drew Butera launched a two-run home run in the third inning -- the catcher's first shot of the season -- and Cheslor Cuthbert added a solo blast in the sixth, putting Kansas City in position to win. Ventura was sharp across his six-plus frames for the American League Central leaders, but the late collapse sent him to a no-decision.
"[Ventura] really did a great job limiting the damage," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It was a good outing for him."
Ventura limited the Indians to two runs (one earned) on seven hits, including RBI singles by Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez. The Royals righty struck out three and walked two.
Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, following a bout with a strained left hamstring. In his comeback performance, the big right-hander allowed three runs on nine hits, including eight singles, over five innings. Carrasco struck out two and walked one in a no-decision.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Butera's blast: With no outs and one on in the top of the third inning, Butera smacked a four-seam fastball up in the zone deep to left field. The home run, which was projected to land 379 feet away from home plate, according to Statcast™, was Butera's first since Aug. 6, 2015, and gave the Royals a 2-1 lead.
"Obviously, it feels good to homer. It'd feel better if we won," Butera said.
Butera's home run extended his streak of crossing home plate to three games. He's now scored a run and recorded an RBI in four of the six games he's played in since Royals catcher Salvador Perez was injured.
Rare errors: In the third inning, Lindor was gifted second base on a throwing error by first baseman Eric Hosmer. Two batters later he scored on an RBI single by Ramirez. In the eighth, Napoli was allowed to advance to second thanks to a throwing error by shortstop Alcides Escobar. Napoli came around to score on a Tyler Naquin single, trimming the Tribe's deficit to 4-3. It was just the third error of the season by Hosmer and the eighth for Escobar.
"Whenever they make errors, it's rare," Lindor said. "They've got a great defensive team. Whenever you see them making mistakes and us taking advantage and making them pay for it, it's huge."
An unlikely source: With two outs in the top of the fourth, the Royals rallied with consecutive singles by Reymond Fuentes, Cuthbert and Jarrod Dyson -- the Nos. 6-8 hitters in the lineup. Dyson's base hit drove in Fuentes to help the Royals reclaim the lead, 3-2.
"It says a lot about our team," Butera said. "We can put different people in different spots, put different lineups up there and still be able to produce."
Hitting the limit: Given that he only logged roughly 60 pitches in his last Minor League rehab outing, Carrasco was on a pitch count of around 80 in this outing. After he threw 78 pitches through five innings, Cleveland turned to its bullpen. The first reliever out of the 'pen, righty Austin Adams, yielded a solo homer to Cuthbert in the sixth to help Kansas City pad its lead. More >
"I felt a little bit nervous. The last time was April 24, so today, facing Kansas City, they're in first place. You know what? Once I threw the first pitch, everything went away." -- Carrasco, on returning to the rotation
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This marks the first time that Cleveland has enjoyed back-to-back walk-off wins since May 17-18, 2013, when the Indians accomplished the feat against Seattle.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: In the second game of this four-game set, right-hander Edinson Volquez (5-4, 3.74 ERA) will take the mound against the Indians in a 6:10 p.m. CT tilt on Friday. The Royals are 4-1 this year with Volquez pitching against the AL Central, with the lone loss coming to the Tribe on May 8.
Indians: Right-hander Danny Salazar (5-3, 2.39 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe at 7:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Opposing teams are still hitting just .190 off him despite Salazar giving up 19 hits in his previous three starts. He spun 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a win against Kansas City back on May 6.