"That was the goal, but it didn't happen today," said the Royals' Eric Hosmer, who banged a two-run homer. "But we've been doing a good job of bouncing back and winning some series, so we've got to keep at it."
Indeed, the Royals have done just that -- lost a series opener and then won the last two games -- three times this month.
In Monday's series opener, they made three errors for the first time all season and, despite homers by Hosmer and Brayan Pena, couldn't generate quite enough offense.
"I wouldn't call it sloppy. We made three errors, we haven't done that all year," manager Ned Yost said. "But Nate [Adcock] started the game and had a tremendous sinker. Third inning he started drifting a little bit and it just flattened out on him and just couldn't recover from it."
There was an element of controversy involved in the Indians' five-run third inning against Adcock. His troubles began with a leadoff home run into the right-field bullpen by Lonnie Chisenhall and continued as Luke Carlin and Shin-Soo Choo singled, and Michael Brantley walked to load the bases with one out.
That brought out Yost to brief Adcock on the hazards of such a predicament and also to express his confidence.
"I told him he's got the bases loaded, but he's not in any trouble. He can pitch out of it. Just go ahead with conviction and make your pitch," Yost said.
Adcock wanted a double play. He ran a full count on Jason Kipnis, the Tribe's surprise leader in homers and RBIs, but after three foul balls came a two-run single that shot past Adcock's feet.
That gave the Indians a 3-2 lead, overcoming the two-run homer by Hosmer in the second inning into the center-field bullpen against Josh Tomlin. It was Hosmer's first blast in 105 at-bats or since April 25, also against the Indians.
Just ahead was an on-field spat featuring second-base umpire Dan Bellino.
Jose Lopez hit a ball off the plate that soared high over the infield and landed in third baseman Mike Moustakas' glove, too late for a play at first base while Brantley scored from third. But, Kipnis wheeled around second base and headed right for Moustakas, who chased him and applied a tag for the second out. Or so Moustakas thought as he trotted away. But Bellino signaled safe, Kipnis reached third and Yost raced out of the Royals' dugout to express his disbelief to the ump.
"He said he never saw him tag him," Yost said. "Everybody else in the stadium saw it. I don't know how he managed to miss it."
Indians manager Manny Acta, not surprisingly, had another view.
"One of the things that I usually tell guys is just make the guys throw the ball. The chances of getting out of a rundown are very small," Acta said. "He's pretty athletic to go underneath that glove like he did."
A TV instant replay showed Kipnis was tagged on the back but the four umpires, with no such option to review this case, could only convene at mid-field for a discussion.
"I don't know if Kip was out of the baseline or not, but I know I tagged him," Moustakas said.
The umpires let the decision stand and Moustakas, for his effort, was charged with an error.
"I wish I could've got that call," Adcock said "I was out there with runners at first and second and then that ball happened. If that ball had been hit a little harder and hadn't taken a high bounce, I'm out of the inning there. But it didn't go that way for me."
Following the game, Adcock was demoted to Triple-A Omaha to make room for right-handed reliever Vin Mazzaro. This is the second time he was recalled to take Adcock's roster spot.
Subsequently Casey Kotchman singled home Kipnis and Adcock was taken out of the game behind, 5-2. Luis Mendoza relieved him and retired the next two batters.
Not that the disputed play was a killer.
"It cost us a run and you lose by three," Yost noted.
Pena homered over the center-field wall, a 412-foot wallop for his first of the year, a solo shot in the fifth against Tomlin.
"I was trying to make a good swing, get good contact and get on base. I was trying to get something started there," Pena said.
And he did because Jarrod Dyson followed with a triple into the right-field corner and, when Kipnis' relay throw soared over third base and into the stands for an error, Dyson trotted home to cut the deficit to 5-4.
After the Indians went up 6-4, Dyson was at it again in the seventh as he walked, swiped second for his seventh stolen base and scored on Alcides Escobar's single to cut the lead to one run.
But two errors by the Royals in the bottom half helped the Tribe add two more runs. Reliever Jose Mijares made a wild pickoff throw to first base and second baseman Irving Falu booted what could've been an inning-ending double play.
After that, the Royals' effort to play spoilers -- and let the White Sox take over the lead for a change and to get within six games themselves -- was just plain spoiled.