April 21, 2014

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Indians come to a rolling stop: Complete sweep of Royals to head into All-Star break in thick of A.L. Central race

CLEVELAND — When Tim Collins pitches for the Kansas City Royals, good things happen for the Indians.

Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a go-ahead, two-run double off Collins in the sixth inning Sunday, propelling the Tribe to a 6-4 win.

Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs both scored on the play, while Cabrera came home one batter later as the diminutive reliever allowed three runs in one-third of an inning to squander what was a
4-3 Royals lead.

It was Cleveland’s fourth straight win and kept it 1½ games behind first-place Detroit in the American League Central Division heading into the MLB All-Star break.

More photos below.

“I don’t know what it is, but we’ve had some success against Collins, haven’t we?” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s good, too, really good, and has really good stuff. I wish I knew what the secret to our success is because we’d do it all the time.”

Tribe reliever Rich Hill (1-1, 6.08 ERA) picked up the victory by recording the final two outs in the top of the sixth, while Chris Perez tossed a scoreless ninth for his 13th save of the season.

They were the beneficiaries of Collins’ latest meltdown against Cleveland, which has beaten the left-hander three times this season, including in the series opener Friday.

In his three-year career, Collins (2-5, 4.86 ERA) has an 0-4 record and 7.11 ERA in 26 appearances against the Indians.

“I still feel I’m going out there and making my pitches, but they’re just hitting them,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re seeing them or what I’m doing out there. I just have to keep going out there and doing the same thing.”

Catcher Carlos Santana and designated hitter Cabrera led the Tribe with three hits apiece, while center fielder Michael Bourn and All-Star second baseman Kipnis each had two. Kipnis drove home Cabrera with Cleveland’s final run when Everett Teaford replaced Collins.

“Even though we’re a young team, I feel like we’re making adjustments on the fly and winning the games we’re supposed to win,” Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said. “Now we’re going to have a happy All-Star break and come back ready to keep things going.”

Tribe right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez struggled badly in his shortest start since June 7. He only lasted four innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, and exited with Kansas City leading 4-3.

“It was a tough day for Ubaldo, but we knew with four days off that we could empty the bullpen,” Francona said.

Relievers Chen-Chang Lee, Hill, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, and Perez answered the call and blanked the Royals over the final five innings. Lee — a 26-year-old righty — became the ninth Taiwanese player in MLB history and went 1⅓ hitless innings.

“Lee’s stuff is exceptional and I thought he handled himself well for his first major league game,” Francona said. “All he needs is experience, and we’ll be happy to give it to him.”

Kansas City right-hander James Shields went five innings, giving up three runs, before manager Ned Yost turned it over to Collins to start the sixth.

Shields surrendered a sacrifice fly to Kipnis in the first, along with run-scoring hits by left fielder Michael Brantley and Santana in the third that restored the Tribe’s lead at 3-2.

The Royals promptly got two runs off Jimenez in the fourth. Lorenzo Cain and Green High graduate David Lough both reached base, then stole second en route to scoring the game-tying and go-ahead runs.

Speedy outfielders Cain and Lough also scored in the second inning to give Kansas City a 2-1 lead.
“What can I say, except it wasn’t my best pitching today,” Jimenez said.

Fortunately for Cleveland, Collins was even worse.

The Indians wrapped up the first half of the season at 51-44, finishing their 10-day, 10-game homestand with six wins. They return to action Friday at Minnesota.

“Up to this point, we’ve played well enough that every game is going to be meaningful starting Friday,” Francona said. “And let me tell you, that’s a fun way to play baseball.”

Next up

  • WHAT: All-Star Game
  • WHEN: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
  • WHERE: Citi Field, Flushing, N.Y.
  • TV/RADIO: Channel 8; WKNR 850-AM
  • INDIANS ALL-STARS: Justin Masterson, Jason Kipnis.

The Indians return to action Friday against the Twins at 8:10 p.m. at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.