July 22, 2014

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Royals use four sacrifice flies to down Indians

Cleveland Indians shortstop Mike Aviles throws to home plate after catching a fly ball in the third inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday. Kansas City's Alcides Escobar scored from third on the sacrifice fly. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Cleveland Indians shortstop Mike Aviles throws to home plate after catching a fly ball in the third inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday. Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar scored from third on the sacrifice fly. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Trevor Bauer had just watched the Royals score all their runs on four sacrifice flies in a 4-1 defeat, and the Indians’ starter was asked what bothered him most about the game.

The way Kansas City chipped away at him? The way the Cleveland hitters performed?

“That we lost,” Bauer replied.

Care to elaborate?

“That we lost four to one,” he said. “Next question.”

No surprise the Indians were feeling sour, though. In less than 24 hours, they had dropped both of their games to an AL Central rival in an abbreviated two-game set.

“They are a very difficult team to play,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We have a lot of respect on how good they are.”

The Royals, winners of four straight, tied a franchise record with four sacrifice flies. They also became the second team to score all four runs on sac flies since it became an official stat in 1954 — the Expos did it in an 8-4, 14-inning loss to the Cubs on May 28, 1980, according to STATS.

Yordano Ventura (4-5) allowed six hits while striking out three without a walk to win back-to-back starts for the first time.
The only run he allowed came in the sixth, when Carlos Santana followed consecutive singles to start the inning with an RBI single.

By then, Bauer (1-3) had already allowed sacrifice flies to Jarrod Dyson, Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar. Billy Butler added another off reliever John Axford in the seventh.

The Indians loaded the bases off Wade Davis with nobody out in the eighth, but two strikeouts and a groundout ended the threat.
Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save.

The Royals (33-32) moved over .500 for the first time since May 18. They also jumped over Cleveland into second place in the division.

“They’ve got great pitching, a great bullpen,” Indians DH Jason Giambi said. “They’ve got some guys that really swing the bat. They played a good series against us, definitely.”

Prior to the game, Francona recalled with disdain the last time his club faced Ventura — the young flamethrower’s debut last September. Ventura allowed one run over 5⅔ innings, and at one point threw a pitch to Yan Gomes clocked at 102 mph.

“He’s got pretty special stuff,” Francona said. “Kind of hope we don’t see that today.”

Turns out he did. Ventura kept the ball down in the strike zone and forced the Indians to chop into a series of groundouts. He retired seven straight batters at one point, never allowing a ball to be hit out of the infield.

“I went out there with the mentality to throw a lot of strike,” Ventura said through a translator. “Something good was going to happen if I threw a lot of strikes.”

Nobody was more frustrated than Giambi. With the Royals shifting their infield, the Indians DH grounded out to the exact same spot three straight times before popping out.

“He’s got great stuff,” Giambi said. “When he locates like he did today, he’s tough. He really is. He’s got good mound presence and attacks the strike zone.”

The Royals scored their first run when Dyson followed a double by Mike Moustakas and a single by Escobar with a sacrifice fly in the third. Nori Aoki followed with a single, and Infante hit his sacrifice fly to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.

Escobar’s sacrifice fly came after a double by Salvador Perez and a single by Moustakas in the fourth, and Butler added his sacrifice fly after singles by Infante and Eric Hosmer.

That was enough to beat Bauer, who has still never won in seven road outings. The Indians starter allowed three runs on seven hits in 5⅓ innings.

“That type of energy and intensity we played with today, that’s the way we need to play,” Butler said. “Bauer was pitching really well. Every opportunity we had we capitalized on.”

Notes

  • Lonnie Chisenhall had a pair of hits for Cleveland, extending his hitting streak to a career-best nine games. He’s had at least two hits in his last five.
  • Escobar has hit in 10 straight games.
  • Indians OF/1B Nick Swisher (left knee) planned to make a final rehab start Wednesday for Double-A Akron before joining the team today in Boston. Asked if Swisher would be activated immediately, Francona said, “We’ll see.”

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