CLEVELAND | So who saw this coming?
Here it was Saturday night and the Royals, as has been their nature this season, were going down meekly. Cleveland starter C.C. Sabathia, the reigning Cy Young winner carried a two-run into the seventh inning.
And what happens?
The Royals roused themselves for four runs, knocked out Sabathia, batted around, took the lead and held on for a 4-2 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.
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Fact is, lots of people in Kansas City didn’t see it period. Cable systems in the metro area switched away from the game at 10 p.m. for several minutes _ to some sort of poker tournament _ before regaining the feed.
What they missed was a portion of the Royals’ best comeback effort since Opening Day, when they erased a 3-0 deficit against Justin Verlander and the Tigers.
Luke Hochevar, 2-1, solidified his place in the rotation with a second straight quality start. He allowed two runs and just three hits in six innings while striking out six and walking four.
The bullpen took it from there. Ron Mahay worked around a two-out walk in the seventh. Ramon Ramirez erased a one-out single in the eighth by getting dangerous Victor Martinez to ground into a double play.
Joakim Soria breezed through the ninth with two strikeouts for his seventh save.
Sabathia, 1-5, was in complete command for six innings but hit a wall in the seventh. The Indians used four pitchers in the inning, but all four runs were changed to Sabathia, who also gave up 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings.
John Buck led off with a double into the left-field corner and went to third on Tony Peña’s perfect push bunt up the first-base line. David DeJesus followed with a slicing RBI single through the left side.
A sacrifice by Mark Grudzielanek moved the runners to second and third for Alex Gordon, who hit a looper into right that Franklin Gutierrez reached but couldn’t hold.
The result was an RBI single that tied the game 2-2 _ and finished Sabathia.
Masa Kobayashi retired José Guillen of a fly to short right, but Billy Butler punched an RBI single up the middle for a 3-2 lead. Rafael Perez replaced Kobayashi and yielded an RBI single to Mark Teahen.
Now it was 4-2, and the Indians made another pitching change: Jensen Lewis replaced Perez. It was too late. The Royals bullpen kept the Indians under wraps over the final three innings.
The Royals, 13-16, finished with 12 hits, including three from Teahen, who had struck out in his six previous at-bats against Sabathia. DeJesus, Butler and Buck each had two hits.
Still, it appeared the Royals were headed for frustration until the seventh as they failed to cash several scoring opportunities.
They mounted an immediate threat after DeJesus opened the game with a double. DeJesus stole third on a ball-four pitch to Gordon, which put runners at first and third with one out.
DeJesus tried to score when Guillen topped a 3-2 pitch to the left side of the mound _ and was thrown out at the plate by Sabathia. Butler ended the threat with a slow grounder to second for the final out.
The Royals threatened again in the fourth after Teahen grounded a two-out single into center, then raced to third on Miguel Olivo’s broken-bat double down the left-field line.
Sabathia stranded both runners by retiring Buck on a fly to left.
The Indians didn’t have a hit until David Dellucci opened the fourth with a line-drive single into center. Martinez followed with a single that extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Dellucci raced to third.
Hochevar struck out Jhonny Peralta on three pitches but threw a wild pitch on a full count to Travis Hafner. Dellucci scored, and the walk put runners at first and second. Hochevar avoided further damage by retiring the next two hitters.
The Indians extended their lead to 2-0 in the fifth on Grady Sizemore’s one-out homer, a 405-foot drive to right field. It was Sizemore’s fourth homer of the year.
The Royals got two-out singles in the sixth from Butler and Teahen but again couldn’t get the big hit. Olivo struck out.