Royals work extra hard to snap losing skid

Royals work extra hard to snap losing skid

Royals work extra hard to snap losing skid
CLEVELAND -- It wasn't easy but finally, the Royals' skid is over.

Kansas City ended a six-game losing streak with a 14-inning, 7-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night at Progressive Field. When the grinding marathon was over, the Royals looked lighter, as if a huge weight had been lifted.

"No doubt. It was weighing on me," manager Ned Yost said.

The win came only after the Royals had blown a 6-1 lead and had been held scoreless for 10 straight innings.

They scored the deciding run against Indians left-hander Scott Maine, who opened the 14th by walking Mike Moustakas. Maine got two strikeouts but, with Tony Abreu at the plate, his wild pitch moved Moustakas to second. Abreu put the Royals ahead by softly lining a 2-1 pitch that dropped into center for an RBI single.

"We played 14 innings and I had no base hits, so I tried to get one," Abreu said. "So I'm very happy."

But that wasn't the end of the tension in this 4-hour, 52-minute cliffhanger.

"I would have preferred it went nine innings but once it didn't, [Tommy] Hottovy did a great job, [Vin] Mazzaro did a great job and Kelvin Herrera -- geez-oh-Pete," Yost said.

Behind by one run in the 14th, the Indians loaded the bases against Herrera with no outs on Ezequiel Carrera's safe bunt, Shin-Soo Choo's single, and a walk to Jason Kipnis. All the Indians needed was a fairly deep fly ball or a ground-ball tweener to get the fleet Carrera home.

Carlos Santana flied out to shallow left and the Indians weren't about to test the well-known accuracy of Alex Gordon's arm. Then Lonnie Chisenhall hit a line drive toward right-center field where Jeff Francoeur closed fast.

"The line drive to Francoeur, I thought the game was over," Herrera said. "But when I saw he caught it, I thought, 'Oh, we've got a life here.'"

Francoeur thought so, too.

"I was playing in and when he hit it, I knew I had to charge as hard as I could and once I caught it, obviously I knew he's not tagging, he's not going so I felt comfortable that Herrera would get that last out," Francoeur said.

Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. thought holding Carrera at third was the proper call -- especially because he didn't tag up right away.

"Even if he would've tagged up, I think [Francoeur] would've had a good chance to get him. He's got one of the best arms in the league," Alomar said.

Casey Kotchman grounded out to end the game and the three stranded runners gave the Indians 20 left on base for the game -- tying a record for a Royals opponent. That hadn't been done since Texas stranded 20 in an 18-inning, 4-3 loss to KC on June 6, 1991.

The Royals were one out from snapping their skid at six games in regulation time, holding a 6-4 lead in the ninth inning.

But closer Greg Holland walked Santana to open the inning and it deteriorated into a two-run, game-tying frame for the Indians.

"The game doesn't get tied up unless you walk the leadoff man," Holland said. "You're not always going to get away with that and I didn't tonight. Fortunately, we pitched very well after that."

Hottovy pitched a scoreless 10th and 11th and Mazzaro stymied the Tribe in the 12th and 13th.

It wasn't a good night, though, for the Royals' rookie starter, Jake Odorizzi. His second Major League start lasted just two innings. He had a 6-1 lead when he left the game but there were plenty of reasons for his departure. Namely, a whopping total of 65 pitches.

The 22-year-old right-hander ran up 42 pitches in the first inning alone, when he issued two walks and Chisenhall doubled home a run. He made 23 pitches in a scoreless second inning and that was enough for Yost.

"Pitch count way too high -- 65 pitches in two innings with a young pitcher this late in the year, it's too much. I'm not sending him back out," Yost said. "[Nate] Adcock came in and did a phenomenal job getting us to the 'pen. [Francisley] Bueno did a good job."

Obviously, the Royals' top-rated pitching prospect did not have his command. In his two innings, Odorizzi gave up one run, two hits and three walks with one strikeout. Of his 65 pitches, 43 were strikes.

But the Indians had just one run and the Royals matched their season high by scoring six runs in an inning, the third. Everything happened with two outs.

Irving Falu singled and Gordon walked. Billy Butler lined a single for a 1-1 tie, Salvador Perez got an infield hit to load the bases and Moustakas belted a two-run double to right-center. This was all against Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez, who next delivered a 2-0 pitch that Francoeur smashed over the left-field wall for a three-run homer. It gave Frenchy 15 homers for the season.

Adcock went 3 2/3 innings and gave up one unearned caused by his own two errors on one play.

In the eighth, the Indians loaded the bases against Aaron Crow on two walks and pinch-hitter Brantley's single with two outs. Left-hander Tim Collins came in to face Choo, who drilled a two-run single to right for a 6-4 score. Then came the two-run ninth against Holland. So three of the Royals' most reliable relievers were all victimized on this long night.

But the Royals held on until they finally broke the 6-6 tie on Abreu's hit.

"It's one of those games where everybody starts getting tired. The swings are dragging, and what usually wins a game is somebody bleeding one in," Francoeur said. "And Tony was able to bleed one in there."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.