Kansas City Royals

Royals’ rally falls short in 5-4 loss to the Indians

The Royals’ Cheslor Cuthbert was tagged out at home plate by Indians catcher Yan Gomes in the seventh inning Sunday in Cleveland.
The Royals’ Cheslor Cuthbert was tagged out at home plate by Indians catcher Yan Gomes in the seventh inning Sunday in Cleveland. AP

As the baseball chopped off the bat of Jarrod Dyson in the seventh inning on Sunday afternoon, Cheslor Cuthbert took a step forward and leaned his body toward home plate. He paused for a moment, pondering his options in the milliseconds it took the ball to bounce past the pitcher’s mound. Then he took off sprinting for home.

The hesitation would prove costly, the moment critical in the Royals’ 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. The decision to run snuffed out a golden opportunity to tie the game in the late innings.

Cuthbert was cut down at the plate by Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. The Royals were one out closer to losing their fourth straight series and falling back to .500 — 15-15 — entering a four-game series at Yankee Stadium in New York.

“I reacted too late,” Cuthbert said.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Royals had opened the inning with a pair of doubles sandwiched around an infield single from Cuthbert. They had chased Indians starter Josh Tomlin from the game, sliced the deficit to 5-4 on an RBI double from Christian Colon, and they had runners at second and third with nobody out. They came away with zilch.

One day after replacing an injured Mike Moustakas at third base, Cuthbert was left to explain a curious base-running decision.

With nobody out and runners on first and third, the Indians defense was not playing in. Third-base coach Mike Jirschele advised Cuthbert to get a good read on any ball up the middle. When Dyson hit a chopper toward shortstop, Cuthbert thought he had a chance to score.

“I just wanted to make sure the ball was past the pitcher,” Cuthbert said. “So I started kind of late. It cost us a run.”

Lindor charged hard and made a strong throw. Colon remained stuck at second base after being caught off guard by Cuthbert’s dash home. Moments later, Alcides Escobar hit into an inning-ending double play.

“I thought about (going to third) when he threw home,” Colon said. “But at that point, I was too close to the bag. I went back. That’s a tough play, a tough read.”

Recapping a 5-4 loss and the Royals' series in Cleveland 

As Colon spoke, the Royals packed their belongings for New York, the final four road games in a grueling stretch. Beginning on April 25, the club was set to play 13 of its next 16 away from Kauffman Stadium.

In the last two weeks, the club is just 3-9. They have lost series in Anaheim, Seattle, Kansas City and Cleveland. They have fallen six games behind the Chicago White Sox, who won on Sunday to improve to 22-10. On Monday, the Royals must beat the Yankees to avoid falling under .500 for the first time since July 22, 2014.

From that perspective, Sunday felt like a missed opportunity. Eric Hosmer clubbed his fifth homer of the season — a 447-foot blast — during a three-run fourth inning. But Royals starter Edinson Volquez could not pass off the lead to the vaunted back end of the bullpen.

Volquez allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. He ran into trouble in the fifth with the Royals still owning a 3-2 lead.

The Indians opened the inning with a single, a stolen base and another single, tying the game at 3-3. Volquez turned around and walked Mike Napoli before inducing a fielder’s choice from Yan Gomes. That brought up the left-handed hitting Lonnie Chisenhall.

The Royals had left-hander Danny Duffy warming in the bullpen. The Indians had an option on the bench in Rajai Davis, a speedy outfielder with a career .269 average. Yost opted to let Volquez face Chisenhall; he surrendered an RBI base hit to right, breaking the 3-3 deadlock.

“We had Duffy ready,” Yost said. “But it wasn’t going to be Chisenhall, it was going to be Davis. I just fell like Eddie had an out left in him, to get us through that inning, and Duffy could go out in the sixth and hold the fort right there. It just didn’t happen.”

Volquez departed with the Royals trailing 4-3. Duffy came on and allowed an RBI rule-book double to Marlon Byrd before ending the inning with the deficit at two.

For the first three-plus innings on Sunday, Volquez had surrendered just two hits. Both left the yard at Progressive Field. Designated hitter Carlos Santana opened the bottom of the first inning with a 375-foot homer to right-center field. Mike Napoli jumped on a 3-2 fastball and cranked a solo homer to left in the bottom of the fourth.

The Royals had erased a 1-0 deficit in the top of the fourth, scoring three runs on a titanic shot from Hosmer and an RBI double from Salvador Perez. The inning began with Lorenzo Cain’s first double of 2016.

One batter later, Hosmer punished a 3-2 cutter from Tomlin, blasting a baseball 447 feet into the bullpen that sits beyond right-center field. According to Statcast, it was the longest regular-season homer of Hosmer’s career.

For a moment, the momentum appeared to swell, the Royals seemed close to a breakthrough series victory. The lead disappeared in the fifth. The potential comeback fell apart in the seventh. With runners at second and third and nobody out, the Royals just needed a fly ball to tie the score. Instead, they got a chopper to shortstop, and Cuthbert exercised too much risk.

“He just got a real late break on it,” Yost said. “It wasn’t a good read.”

Kansas City AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Escobar ss

4

0

0

0

0

0

.258

Cain cf

4

1

2

0

0

1

.259

Hosmer 1b

3

1

1

2

1

0

.336

Morales dh

4

0

0

0

0

1

.205

Gordon lf

4

1

1

0

0

1

.220

Perez c

4

1

2

1

0

1

.232

Cuthbert 3b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.250

Colon 2b

3

0

1

1

0

1

.258

Dyson rf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.231

Totals 33

4

9

4

1

6

 

Cleveland AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Santana dh

4

1

1

1

1

0

.224

Kipnis 2b

4

0

0

0

0

3

.261

Lindor ss

3

1

1

0

1

1

.324

Brantley lf

4

1

1

1

0

1

.257

Napoli 1b

3

1

1

1

1

0

.232

Gomes c

3

1

0

0

1

0

.176

Chisenhall cf-rf

4

0

2

1

0

1

.256

Byrd rf

3

0

2

1

0

0

.250

Davis cf

1

0

0

0

0

1

.253

Uribe 3b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.231

Ramirez 3b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.310

Totals 33

5

8

5

4

8

 

Kansas City

000

300

100

4

9

2

Cleveland

100

130

00x

5

8

0

E—Escobar (5), Hosmer (1). LOB—Kansas City 5, Cleveland 8. 2B—Cain (1), Perez 2 (8), Colon (2), Byrd (4). HR—Hosmer (5), off Tomlin; Santana (5), off Volquez; Napoli (6), off Volquez. RBIs—Hosmer 2 (15), Perez (15), Colon (2), Santana (13), Brantley (7), Napoli (20), Chisenhall (2), Byrd (9). SB—Lindor (5). CS—Hosmer (1). DP—Cleveland 2.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Volquez L, 3-3

4 1/3

7

5

5

4

4

3.89

Duffy

1 2/3

1

0

0

0

2

3.38

Hochevar

1

0

0

0

0

1

4.38

Soria

1

0

0

0

0

1

4.11

Cleveland

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Tomlin W, 5-0

6

7

4

4

0

3

3.72

McAllister H, 5

 1/3

2

0

0

0

0

1.59

Shaw H, 7

1 2/3

0

0

0

1

2

7.10

Allen S, 8-8

1

0

0

0

0

1

5.84

Tomlin pitched to 1 batter in the 7th. Inherited runners-scored—Duffy 2-1, McAllister 1-1, Shaw 2-0. T—2:57. A—14,463 (38,000).

Rustin Dodd: @rustindodd

Related stories from Wichita Eagle

  Comments