Royals

Indians walk off with a 2-1 win over the Royals, spoiling Edinson Volquez’s strong start

Indians teammates rushed the field to celebrate with Brandon Guyer (second from left), whose pinch-hit game-winning double off Royals reliever Joakim Soria in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted Cleveland to a 2-1 win over Kansas City on Tuesday night.
Indians teammates rushed the field to celebrate with Brandon Guyer (second from left), whose pinch-hit game-winning double off Royals reliever Joakim Soria in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted Cleveland to a 2-1 win over Kansas City on Tuesday night. The Associated Press

The bullpen door opened inside Progressive Field on Tuesday night, and into the fire jogged Joakim Soria, a sight that toed the line between jarring and inevitable.

It was the bottom of the ninth. There were two runners on in a tie game. Royals manager Ned Yost handed Soria a bucket of kerosene and asked him to walk a tightrope.

“It’s Jack in that situation,” Yost would say later.

What followed was something close to a tragicomedy, another dark night for the back end of the bullpen, a 2-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians on the first night of a six-game road trip.

With two runners on, and the game on the line, the baseball gods smiled as Soria allowed a hard comebacker from Rajai Davis that kicked off his leg and right to first baseman Eric Hosmer for an out. Moments later, perhaps those same gods let out a cackle as Brandon Guyer ended the night with a walk-off single that landed just inside the right-field line.

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The loss was awarded to left-hander Brian Flynn, who opened the inning by issuing a walk and committing an error on a bunt attempt. The presence of Soria simply expedited the situation.

“Again, there’s a lot of weird stuff going on,” Yost said. “If that ball doesn’t hit Jack’s foot, that’s a double-play ball hit straight to Merrifield. So that’s nothing that was his fault. He didn’t put his foot out there trying to hit it.”

In the moments after the game, a frustrated Soria declined to speak to reporters for the first time this season. Flynn sought to take some of the blame for the ninth inning.

“That was about as hand-wrapped as you can give it right there,” he said.

The Royals, 77-74, were also still upset about a pair of strike-three calls in the eighth inning. With pinch runner Terrance Gore on third base with one out, Indians reliever Andrew Miller struck out Christian Colon and Whit Merrifield on borderline pitches. The pitch to Colon appeared to be low and inside — but very close. The pitch to Merrifield appeared further out of the zone.

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“I don’t really think they were borderline — no,” Yost said during a postgame news conference. “Both of them. They took us completely out of the inning.”

Moments later, Colon shared his displeasure.

“We got to be better right there in that situation,” Colon said, referencing home plate umpire Carlos Torres. “You can’t just be giving pitches down like that, especially in a situation like that where you got a guy like Miller (on the mound). You can’t help a guy like that.

“You got to keep your cool and go on and do the best you can. But I’m definitely not happy with that and Merrifield’s call. That’s just the reality — straight up.”

By the bottom of the ninth, Yost had already used left-hander Matt Strahm for an out in the seventh and Kelvin Herrera in the eighth. Adhering to his policy of not using his closer on the road in a non-save situation, the ninth belonged to Flynn.

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When that option wobbled, Yost turned back to Soria, needing a right-hander.

Starter Edinson Volquez had allowed just one run in 6  2/3 innings, rebounding from a woeful performance in his last start. The offense, though, managed just one run against Indians starter Josh Tomlin.

The Indians had struck first in the bottom of the third, on a solo homer from Carlos Santana. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Volquez left a two-seam fastball up in the zone, and Santana punished it, sending a majestic homer into the seats in right field.

The Royals tied the score against Tomlin in the fifth. Salvador Perez doubled with one out. Alex Gordon followed by shooting a single to left field.

Volquez, meanwhile, settled into a groove in the middle innings before escaping a minor scare in the bottom of the sixth. With a runner on second and two outs, Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall blasted a pitch to deep right. For a brief second, the ball appeared headed for the first row of seats. But right fielder Paulo Orlando got a good jump and tracked down the baseball near the base of the wall.

On Tuesday, the Royals had arrived at Progressive Field in the early afternoon, opening the final road trip of 2016. In the span of six days, they were set to face division rivals Cleveland and Detroit in a pair of three-game series. And while the playoffs were not technically out of the question, the Royals’ clubhouse seemed to understand its predicament.

In the early afternoon,Yost answered questions about the Indians’ playoff potential after an injury to starter Carlos Carrasco. Cleveland’s magic number hovered at seven as its lead over the Tigers held steady at seven games.

A few hours later, after a walk-off victory against the Kansas City bullpen, the magic number was at six.

Indians 2, Royals 1

Royals

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Dyson cf

2

0

0

0

0

0

.262

a-Colon ph-3b

1

0

0

0

0

1

.231

Merrifield 2b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.284

Hosmer 1b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.271

Morales dh

4

0

1

0

0

0

.262

S.Perez c

4

1

1

0

0

1

.247

Gordon lf

3

0

2

1

0

1

.218

Orlando rf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.294

Escobar ss

3

0

0

0

0

0

.268

Cuthbert 3b

3

0

2

0

0

0

.276

1-Gore pr

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Burns cf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.304

Totals

31

1

6

1

0

6

Cleveland

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Santana dh

4

1

1

1

0

0

.246

Kipnis 2b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.278

Lindor ss

3

0

0

0

1

1

.308

Napoli 1b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.246

Ramirez 3b

3

0

1

0

1

0

.311

Chisenhall rf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.294

b-Crisp ph

0

1

0

0

0

0

.156

Almonte lf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.270

Naquin cf

2

0

0

0

1

2

.300

c-Davis ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.255

R.Perez c

2

0

0

0

1

1

.174

d-Guyer ph

1

0

1

1

0

0

.324

Totals

31

2

5

2

4

7

Kansas City

000

010

000

1

6

1

Cleveland

001

000

001

2

5

1

Two outs when winning run scored.

a-struck out for Dyson in the 8th. b-out on sacrifice bunt for Chisenhall in the 9th. c-grounded out for Naquin in the 9th. d-doubled for R.Perez in the 9th. 1-ran for Cuthbert in the 8th.

E: Flynn (1), Almonte (2). LOB: Kansas City 4, Cleveland 8. 2B: S.Perez (27). 3B: Gordon (2). HR: Santana (33), off Volquez. RBIs: Gordon (35), Santana (78), Guyer (32). SB: Gore (9), Kipnis (14), Ramirez (22). S: Dyson, Crisp.

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 4 (Merrifield, Hosmer, Orlando, Escobar); Cleveland 2 (Napoli, Chisenhall). RISP: Kansas City 1 for 8; Cleveland 1 for 6. Runners moved up: Merrifield, Lindor, Davis.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

NP

ERA

Volquez

6.2

4

1

1

3

5

105

5.25

Strahm

0.1

0

0

0

0

0

4

1.00

Herrera

1

0

0

0

0

2

14

2.24

Flynn L, 1-2

0.1

0

1

0

1

0

8

2.32

Soria

0.1

1

0

0

0

0

6

4.12

Cleveland

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

NP

ERA

Tomlin

6.2

5

1

1

0

3

84

4.61

Shaw

0.2

1

0

0

0

0

12

3.14

Miller W, 9-1

1.2

0

0

0

0

3

24

1.85

Inherited runners-scored: Strahm 1-0, Soria 2-1, Shaw 1-0, Miller 1-0. WP: Miller.

Umpires: Home, Carlos Torres; First, Bill Welke; Second, Paul Emmel; Third, Scott Barry. Time: 2:45. Att: 13,623.

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