By Jeffrey Flanagan and Jordan Bastian
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
KANSAS CITY -- Salvador Perez smashed a two-run homer with two out in the eighth inning off reliever Bryan Shaw to lift the Royals to a 3-2 win over the Indians on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Perez, who is the leading vote-getter for the American League on the latest Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot update, jumped on the first pitch, a cutter, he saw from Shaw. Eric Hosmer had led off the inning with an infield hit that appeared to be misplayed by third baseman Jose Ramirez.
"He got a cutter and he barreled it," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Perez. "That was a huge hit for us.
"I had a really good feeling about Sal coming up there and doing something special. And he did."
The Royals, who won their fourth straight, moved to one game back of the American League Central-leading Indians.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin kept the Royals off-balance with his cutter and sinker, and gave up one run through seven innings. He surrendered seven hits, but didn't issue a walk and struck out five. It was Tomlin's third straight quality start.
"He commanded. He competed. He changed speeds," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "There were some high-leverage innings because of the score of the game, but he was terrific."
Right-hander Chris Young started for the Royals and went 4 1/3 innings, giving up five hits, including a home run to Carlos Santana in the third inning, and two earned runs. Young walked four and struck out four.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Whit Show: Royals rookie second baseman Whit Merrifield continues to dazzle with his play. He mashed his second homer in two games with a solo shot in the third inning. He also made a tremendous scoop and turn on a 5-4-3 double play in the first. He made another nice turn on a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth.
"Another great game for him," Yost said. "Phenomenal double-play turns. Quick, strong-armed throws. He's just really doing a great job. That was as tough a double play as you're going to turn when he had to scoop it out of the dirt. He still made a strong throw."
Mr. June: Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis entered with a career slash line of .318/.395/.469 in June, and was sporting an .888 OPS this month. The second baseman continued his strong showing of late in the fifth, when he lined a pitch from Dillon Gee up the middle for an RBI single, giving Cleveland a 2-1 advantage.
Shaw's struggles: After Tomlin's solid performance, eighth-inning man Shaw allowed the decisive two-run homer. It marked the third straight outing in which Shaw has given up at least one run (four runs in two innings combined). In 25 1/3 innings, Shaw has surrendered seven home runs (a career-high 2.5 homers per nine innings). More >
"It's very frustrating," Shaw said. "[Tomlin] got us the opportunity to get the win. He got us a chance to win the ballgame. Obviously, I didn't hold up doing my job, so it stinks for him getting a no-decision out of that."
Jack to the rescue: Reliever Joakim Soria had to man up because the Royals were without Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar because of overwork recently. Soria came into the eighth and with one out and two on, he got out of that jam. After two quick outs in the ninth, Soria gave up a single and a walk. But he got Kipnis to pop out.
Soria acknowledged it's not easy for late-inning relievers to work an inning, sit, and come back in.
"When you're not used to it, it gets tougher," Soria said. "But you adjust. We're athletes. I knew it was a possibility I had to throw one-plus."
As for Kipnis, Soria said, "I tried to keep him off-balance and throw inside and out. And I got him with a fastball."
"I don't want an alternative. ... That would not be a smart move on my part. He's been a good pitcher for us and his stuff's good. We can't run away from guys when they have a tough week. That doesn't make sense to me." -- Francona, on sticking with Shaw as the setup man
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
On the one-year anniversary of his promotion to the Majors, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor collected three hits (two singles and a double). It marked his team-leading 11th game with at least three hits. Only Boston's Xander Bogaerts (12) has more three-hit games this season.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: For the finale of this three-game series with the Royals on Wednesday, ace Corey Kluber (6-6, 3.65 ERA) will take the ball in an 8:15 p.m. ET tilt at Kauffman Stadium. Kluber spun a complete game against the Angels on Friday and has a 2.97 ERA with a .196 opponents' average over his last 10 turns.
Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-5, 4.06) will start the finale on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Kennedy has lost three straight, his last win coming over the Indians, 7-0, at Progressive Field on May 7.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.