By Jeffrey Flanagan and Jordan Bastian
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals couldn't chase Indians right-hander Corey Kluber. Only the steamy Kansas City weather could.
Kluber was masterful through seven shutout innings in the 90-degree heat (99 heat index) before a cramp in his lower right leg forced his exit as he warmed up for the eighth inning with a two-run lead. That's when the Royals struck, scoring seven runs off Indians relievers Bryan Shaw and Jeff Manship for a stunning 7-3 win on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
"I definitely let the whole team down," Manship said. "I let Corey down. I let Bryan down. I gave up his runs. That stinks, for sure. Definitely. I feel sick to my stomach about how that went. I was fully ready down there. I just didn't execute the whole outing. It was pathetic, really. Plain and simple."
The Royals pulled within seven games of the American League Central-leading Indians.
"My first career [homer] in the Minor Leagues was a grand slam," Dyson said. "I'm not even a home-run hitter. I'm just a lucky guy right now ... it was an accident. I don't do that on the regular."
Colon had been thrown out trying for a triple, but the Royals simply restarted the rally.
"Paulo's hit was huge to give us the lead," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It looked like we were going to have to settle for the tie, but they kept battling and we kept getting guys on base, and Paulo with a great piece of hitting and great piece of clutch hitting."
In all, Kluber gave up five hits, walked three and struck out eight.
Right-hander Edinson Volquez was almost as good for the Royals. He went seven innings and gave up four hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out six, giving the club its fourth straight decent outing since the break.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Francisco Lindor's laser: The two-out solo jack by Lindor in the first inning sailed down the right-field line, stayed inside the pole and landed deep into the seats. The homer off Volquez had an exit velocity of 108 mph and traveled 435 feet, per Statcast™, that marked both the hardest-hit and farthest homer by Lindor in his MLB career.
"I thought he had really good arm speed on his changeup," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Volquez. "And he throws a two-seamer to the lefties, to that front hip, to open up the plate. The only time he really didn't do it, Frankie got one in the first inning that he hit really well."
Tricky play: Colon came into the game for Morales, who was hit in left foot by a pitch and also fouled a ball off the same leg. With Alcides Escobar on second and Eric Hosmer on first, Colon squared to bunt on the first two pitches. Colon squared again on the third pitch from Shaw, then pulled the bat back and lined a double to deep center field. Colon was thrown out trying for a triple.
"We are ready for situations like that," Colon said. "We talk about that stuff. I was going to bunt, then he got behind 2-0, and I kept squared to see where everyone was. Then I got a pitch I could hit."
Added Yost, "Once we got runners on first and second, we thought, 'Let's just go for the tie.' We had CC bunting on the first two and he got to 2-0, and it was like, 'Slash.' And he did it to perfection. He drove it deep."
Tough luck: Volquez ran into some tough luck in the fourth inning when he walked Jose Ramirez with one out. After a long battle with Lonnie Chisenhall, Volquez jammed him with a fastball, but Chisenhall blooped a single to left-center, as Ramirez then raced for third. Volquez had another long battle with Juan Uribe, who also got jammed, but that worked to Uribe's advantage -- he hit a ball too softly to third for a double play or a throw to home. Uribe wound up with an RBI groundout.
"I thought I did a good job of getting out of some trouble," Volquez said. "That's a tough team. These are games we need to win."
Kluber's escape: Dyson tried to ignite a rally in the third inning with a one-out triple off Kluber, who then faced his first big test with catcher Roberto Perez (fresh off the disabled list). After walking Hosmer and hitting Morales with a pitch to load the bases with two out, Kluber induced a chopper to third off the bat of Salvador Perez. Third baseman Uribe charged in, glove the roller and had just enough time to nab Perez at first.
"He was really good," Kluber said of Perez. "Obviously, we threw to each other a fair amount last year when Yan [Gomes] was hurt and we developed a good relationship, too. I thought he did a great job tonight, both with the running game and then with calling pitches and working behind the plate. I thought he was really good."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This was the first time that Kluber worked with a catcher other than Gomes (15-day disabled list) since May 23, 2015. Kluber and Gomes had partnered for 40 consecutive starts before Perez crouched behind the plate on Monday night.
"I thought he was tremendous," Francona said. "It looked like having the break was really good for him. And it looked like his fastball -- I don't know what the gun even said -- but it was crisp. He was dotting his fastballs. Good breaking ball. It's nice to see him take the rest and not look rusty. The only thing negative is he got a cramp."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With one out and none on in the fourth, Cheslor Cuthbert hit a deep line drive to right field, but was thrown out on a relay throw trying to leg out a triple. The Royals, who trailed 2-0 at that point, challenged the ruling, but the call would stand. Three pitches later, Orlando struck out to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Following his stellar first half, right-hander Danny Salazar was held out of his first All-Star Game due to mild right elbow discomfort. Cleveland did not believe the issue was serious, and that is evident as Salazar (10-3, 2.75 ERA) preps for his first start after the break on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. ET in the middle game at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals: Left-hander Brian Flynn (1-0, 2.39) will make his first start for the Royals and first since August 2014 when he was with Miami on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Flynn has made 13 relief appearances this season and has a 1.42 ERA in his last eight appearances.
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.