Its pretty evident isnt it? that Clevelands struggling Indians are no longer in town.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Friday night brought the Texas Rangers to Kauffman Stadium, thats the team pursuing a third straight trip to the World Series, and that brought an end to the Royals three-game winning streak.
Mitch Morelands three-run homer against reliever José Mijares broke open a tight game in the seventh inning and carried the Rangers to a 5-3 victory in the opener to a three-game weekend series.
(By the way, the Indians the team that snapped the Royals out of an extended funk? They moved on Friday to Detroit, where they absorbed a 10-2 pasting. They dont come back this way until the final three games of the season.)
The Rangers, behind All-Star lefty Matt Harrison, led 2-1 to start the seventh inning when the Royals got a big scare: shortstop Alcides Escobars right leg gave way while attempting to plant for a throw after fielding Michael Youngs leadoff grounder.
Escobar held the ball, which resulted in a single for Young, and limped about, which brought assistant trainer Kyle Turner onto the field for an examination. Escobar remained in the game.
It was just a little thing in my calf when I slipped, he said, but Im fine.
The single, however, finished starter Jeremy Guthrie.
We got to the point in that seventh inning, manager Ned Yost said, where if Young got on, we were going to bring in Mijares for the matchups.
Mijares retired David Murphy, whose two-out single in the fourth broke a 1-1 tie, on a fly to left but walked Geovany Soto before surrendering Morelands booming three-run homer.
He had Moreland in the perfect spot, Yost said. He threw three straight fastballs with two strikes that (Moreland) fouled off, fouled off, fouled off. Im thinking, OK, here comes a slider. Hes going to strike him out.
The pitch was right; the location was up.
It was belt high, and Moreland golfed it into the right-field fountains for a 5-1 lead.
I hit it pretty good, he said. It was an 0-2 count so I was just trying to stay nice and easy, short to the ball, and I think it helped me in that situation.
Morelands homer turned out to be enough, although the Royals made it interesting.
They got one run back in their seventh by stringing together three two-out singles. The first two, by Chris Getz and Alex Gordon, were infield squibbers before Escobar produced the run with a clean single into center.
That finished Harrison.
Texas manager Ron Washington summoned Tanner Scheppers, whose wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position at second and third. But the chance for a big counterpunch ended when Lorenzo Cain flied out to left.
The Royals pulled closer in the eighth on Yuniesky Betancourts two-out RBI double against Mike Adams, which also put runners at second and third. But Getz flied out to left.
Harrison, 13-6, got the victory when Alexi Ogando breezed through the ninth. Closer and long-time Royals nemesis Joe Nathan was unavailable, but it didnt matter, Ogando retired the side in order with two strikeouts.
Guthrie, 0-3, allowed three runs and six hits in six-plus innings. It was his best outing in three starts since arriving July 20 from Colorado in a trade for pitcher Jonathan Sánchez, but he fell to 3-11 overall.
Harrison allowed two runs and eight hits in 62/3 innings.
One thing he did with his motion, first baseman Eric Hosmer said, was he was speeding up and slowing down. He was pretty effective with that.
He just works off his fastball. His fastball has so much life to it. He gets you out early to try to catch up, and then he mixes in a slider or a curveball every once in a while. Hes a tough at-bat, especially for a left-hander.
Guthrie opened the game by surrendering a single to Ian Kinsler and issuing a four-pitch walk to Elvis Andrus. Struggling slugger Josh Hamilton struck out, but Adrian Beltre drew a walk that loaded the bases.
Nelson Cruz made it 1-0 with a sacrifice fly that sent right fielder Jeff Francoeur to the wall before Guthrie ended the inning by striking out Young. It could have been a lot worse.
The first inning, Guthrie said, I was up in the zone a lot, and I got into some trouble. After that, I was able to make some better pitches and give us a chance to win.
The Royals loaded the bases with no outs in the second. Salvy Perez led off with a single through the left side, Francoeur worked a full-count walk, and Hosmer reached on an infield single.
Betancourts double-play grounder to short produced the tying run but zapped the innings momentum. Getz stranded Francoeur at third by grounding out to second.
Texas regained the lead in the fourth on Murphys two-out single to left one pitch after a wild pitch by Guthrie permitted Beltre, who led off with a single, to reach second base.
Not a good curveball, Guthrie said. It was so bad that it actually surprised me that he swung at it. It was way out of the zone. Up and out. But he did a good job. I made my own mess there with the wild pitch and leaving a ball up in the zone.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.