December 21, 2014

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Bannister responsible for Indians’ fall; Royals pitcher gets first win since June 23

CLEVELAND — Before Sunday’s action, the Indians were the last American League team Kansas City Royals pitcher Brian Bannister had beaten.
They still are.
Without a win since June 23, Bannister was looking to beat an AL team for the first time since he stopped Cleveland on June 1. He did just that Sunday in a 13-3 laugher.
The right-hander came into the game with a 1-1 record and a 1.93 earned run average against the Wahoos this season. Thanks to some terrible Tribe pitching and another big day at the plate for Kansas City, Bannister snapped a 13-game winless streak in front of 29,530 at Progressive Field.
He’s now 3-1 against the Tribe with a 1.91 ERA in five career starts.
“That was one of the ugly ones again today,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I feel like we can’t hit when we should hit. It was a long day.”
Bannister made it longer. He struggled early, giving up three runs in the first, but settled down, looking more like the pitcher the New York Mets thought he’d be when they picked him in the seventh round of the 2003 draft.
Bannister was rocked at the onset, allowing three runs on four hits in the first, but settled down after that.
The righty retired 12 of the next 13 — including 11 in a row — before Jhonny Peralta snapped the streak with a single to right to lead off the bottom of the sixth.
Bannister (8-15) went six innings, giving up six hits and three runs — all earned — with two strikeouts and one walk.
“He did a good job of keeping the ball away from us,” Wedge said. “Then he started going back and forth with his pitches. We had a chance, but kept popping them up.”
Indians starter Jeremy Sowers couldn’t come up with a second straight strong start, struggling from the second inning on. The lefty barely survived a 30-pitch second inning, only to throw
37 pitches in the third.
“I was getting the ball up in the zone,” Sowers said. “That was giving them the opportunity to put the ball in play. My slider was subpar. Usually it comes down to something mechanical. Perhaps I’m trying to make too much happen. To go through 67 pitches in two innings, it kind of deflated what we did before.”
It also sparked Kansas City, which scored seven runs from the second through the fourth inning, knocking Sowers out early. Sowers picked up a no-decision but left the game after three innings, giving up three runs — all earned — on five hits, with two strikeouts.
It was his shortest outing since a 9-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox on June 30 (three innings pitched, five hits, eight runs, three earned runs).
“He just didn’t have it today,” Wedge said. “When you work that hard after three innings, I didn’t see it getting any better. You have a bullpen to fall ball back on, but they didn’t have it either.”
The Indians, who have now lost four of their last five, used a season-high seven relievers, but they gave up 10 runs and 12 hits.
The wheels came off early for the pen when Edward Mujica came on in relief of Sowers in the fourth with the game tied at 3. Though he had held teams scoreless in 16 of his last 21 appearances, Mujica promptly gave up four runs — all earned — on three hits in just two-thirds of an inning.
Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com. 

TONIGHT

WHO: Cleveland vs. Minnesota
TIME: 7:05
WHERE: Progressive Field
PITCHERS: Scott Lewis (1-0, 0.001 ERA) vs. Slowey (12-9, 3.63)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WTAM 1100-AM