The Juice: Indians rally harms Royals playoff hopes

David Brown
Big League Stew

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In a pennant race, the mood of a fan base can swing from blissful anticipation to moribund dread in just a couple of pitches. The Cleveland Indians, in a game at Kauffman Stadium that shook with playoff intensity Tuesday night, edged closer to a wild-card berth while dealing a big blow to the team in the other dugout.

Rallying against KC's bullpen after falling behind right-hander Yordano Ventura in his electrified major league debut, the Indians beat the Royals 5-3 to climb within one game of the wild-card leaders.

Via the Associated Press, manager Terry Francona was keenly aware of how important the win was.

''Tonight was one of the more gratifying wins,'' Francona said. ''We kept fighting, and that's a good feeling to be part of that, and watch those guys do that.''

If Cleveland wins again Wednesday, the Tribe will move into the second wild-card spot because Tampa Bay and Texas are playing each other.

Michael Bourn hit an RBI triple in the seventh and added insurance with a ninth-inning home run. The biggest blow came from Asdrubal Cabrera, who hit a go-ahead RBI double to left that the usually sure-handed Alex Gordon misplayed.

The Royals, who have been enjoying a pennant race for the first time in a long time, drew a lively crowd of 21,000 one night after winning the series opener. But they find themselves 3 1/2 games out of the playoffs with 11 games to go. They built a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but wasted opportunities to add more runs to fortify Ventura's debut. The 22-year-old was reaching triple digits with his fastball and throwing disappearing breaking pitches like this one, his first career strikeout, against Jason Kipnis:

Cleveland didn't score until the sixth, but tied the score in the seventh against Kelvin Herrera — who hadn't pitched in a week — and took the lead an inning later against Wade Davis. KC's bullpen and defense have been major assets this season. Conversely, Cleveland's pen kept the Royals off the scoreboard for 4 1/3 innings.

Nationals 6-4, Braves 5-0: With a magic number of four, Atlanta remains close to clinching the NL East, and the Nats are four games in the loss column in back of the Reds, who own the final wild-card spot.

Padres 5, Pirates 2: Not quite Andrew Cashner-quality, but Eric Stults was pretty good. Jedd Gyorko, too.

Cardinals 11, Rockies 4: Team Fredbird moves ahead of the Bucs by a game in NL Central.

Reds 10, Astros 0: Make it an even 100 losses for the 'Stros for the third straight season. Reds are 2 1/2 back in the NL Central.

Blue Jays 2, Yankees 0: With his knuckler fluttering at 100 percent, R.A. Dickey's dominant performance also might signal the end for the Yankees, who are four games behind the wild card. And their radio broadcast has gone to pot, too:

Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: That does it for Koji Uehara's streak of retired batters, ended at 37, thanks to Danny Valencia.

Tigers 6, Mariners 2: Hey, Miguel Cabrera hit a home run for the first time in about three weeks.

Giants 8, Mets 5: Big night for Angel Pagan: Homer, triple, three walks, good beard.

Athletics 2, Angels 1: Finishing off a great individual season, Josh Donaldson performs walkoff duties for the third time this season. An 0-2 pitch, too.

Brewers 4, Cubs 3: How about a walkoff squeeze? NSFW!

White Sox 4, Twins 3: If a tree fell on U.S. Cellular Field ...

Rangers 7, Rays 1: Slugger Ian Kinsler got the Rangers rolling with a leadoff homer in the first inning, which gave them a lead for the first time in 63 innings. They broke a seven-game losing streak and pulled even with the Rays for top of the wild card.

Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 3: The Dodgers ended a four-game skid, moving closer to clinching the NL West, and now they've got Matt Kemp raking. One day after coming off the disabled list, he went 4 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs.

Phillies 6, Marlins 4: It could have been Roy Halladay's final start with the Phillies. Will the Marlins reprint tickets and sell them?

''You've got to have a sense of relief when you lose seven in a row and you know you're a better team than that."

— Ron Washington

• Because of an injured pinkie, the Giants are considering shutting down Marco Scutaro.

• Rookie Tanner Roark is 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA for the Nats.

• The Rangers won for the fourth time in 17 games.

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