Royals beat Indians 4-2 behind Sean O’Sullivan
Soria pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 33rd consecutive save as O’Sullivan and the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 on Thursday night.
“You can’t ever get bored by a closer that’s automatic,” Royals manager Ned Yost after Soria converted his 41st save in 43 tries this season.
The All-Star reliever has tossed 21 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings and saved 65 percent of Kansas City’s 63 wins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s second all-time to Bryan Harvey, who saved 70.3 percent (45 of 64) of the wins for the 1993 Florida Marlins.
“The whole game revolves around how do I get to him,” Yost said. “It sounds crazy, but my first thoughts are how to get Soria in there in the ninth and then work forward with who to use to get it there.”
O’Sullivan (3-6) did his part. The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits over six-plus innings to beat Mitch Talbot(notes) (9-13). He left with a 3-0 lead and two on in the seventh. Philip Humber(notes) allowed both Indians to score, but stranded runners at second and third to end the inning.
“They had the momentum and it felt good to score that quickly and suck the life off them,” Ka’aihue said.
Mike Aviles(notes) also hit a solo homer for the Royals, who moved 1 1/2 games ahead of last-place Cleveland in the AL Central. The Indians have lost five in a row to drop behind Kansas City, which is 7-13 in September.
“He (O’Sullivan) had that good changeup that he was able to throw behind in the count,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He threw strikes. He changed speeds. But the way we’re swinging the bat right now, we’re not helping ourselves.”
O’Sullivan bounced back from a 6-4 home loss to the Indians on Saturday in which he gave up a grand slam to Matt LaPorta(notes) and five runs over four innings. He had yielded at least five runs in each of his previous four starts for an 11.34 ERA.
“It’s been frustrating, pretty rough,” O’Sullivan said. “But I just said tonight that if a guy gets on, he’s not going to score. If a guy gets to second, he’s not scoring. I went in with that mindset.”
Cleveland put the leadoff hitter on base five times against O’Sullivan, who was helped by two double plays.
O’Sullivan was 0-6 with a 7.84 ERA in 10 starts since being acquired July 22 from the Angels. He was 1-0 in five appearances with Los Angeles. O’Sullivan’s other win for the Royals was a one-inning relief outing against the Chicago White Sox, when the Royals won in 10 innings on Aug. 22.
O’Sullivan walked Shelley Duncan(notes) and gave up a double to Jayson Nix(notes) in the seventh. Humber then walked LaPorta to load the bases. Luis Valbuena(notes) bounced into a forceout at second, scoring Duncan. Nix scored from third when first baseman Billy Butler(notes) mishandled a pickoff attempt and was charged with an error.
Talbot gave up three runs and five hits over five innings in his first outing since Sept. 12, when he threw only 14 pitches against Minnesota, leaving with inflammation in his right shoulder.
The rookie retired the last eight Royals he faced, but fell to 1-6 in 12 starts since beating Cincinnati on June 27.
“Physically, I felt better than I have in 95 percent of my starts,” Talbot said. “I felt great. I just didn’t know where I was throwing it. I kind of settled in and got a feel for things around the fourth. I felt like I was getting stronger as I went on.”
NOTES: Kansas City leads the season series 8-7 with three games left. … The Royals are 8-24 on the road since July 9. … Cleveland is 10-21 at home since July 24. … Cleveland purchased the contracts of RHP Vinnie Pestano and C Luke Carlin(notes) from Triple-A Columbus. Carlin, who played for San Diego in 2008 and Arizona in 2009, made his AL debut as a defensive replacement in the eighth. Pestano made his major league debut in the ninth. … Butler went 1 for 3 with two walks. He has at least one hit in a club-record 101 consecutive series, the second-longest active streak to Baltimore OF Nick Markakis(notes), who has hit in 136 straight.
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