Indians rally for critical win over Royals

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- - In a game that had huge implications in the wild-card standings, the Cleveland Indians pulled out a victory.
Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a go-ahead, run-producing double in the eighth and Michael Bourn homered in the ninth as the Cleveland Indians rallied from a three-run deficit to top the Kansas City Royals 5-3 on Tuesday night.
The victory kept the Indians a half-game behind wild-card leaders Texas and Tampa Bay, while the Royals fell 3 1/2 games back.
After playing the Royals Wednesday, the Indians wrap up the season with 10 games against the Astros, White Sox and Twins, all teams with records substantially below .500.
"Tonight was one of the more gratifying wins,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said. ''We kept fighting, and that's a good feeling to be part of that, and watch those guys do that. That was a fun game to be part of, two teams that really want to win bad were competing a lot. We did enough to win."
The Royals have a 59-12 record when leading after six innings, with their reliable bullpen usually able to preserve leads. That was not the case against the Indians.
"Their bullpen pitched better than our bullpen tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Cabrera's double nicked the glove of Royals Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon but got over his head and scored pinch runner Drew Stubbs from first. Stubbs was running for Carlos Santana, who drew a walk from Wade Davis to lead off the eighth.
The Royals committed two errors and could have had a couple of more.
"There were a number of plays that we normally do make," Yost said. "The degree of difficulty on all those plays are still very high and very tough, but we've got a very talented defense and normally we do make those plays."
Bourn, who tripled in a run in the seventh, homered off Luke Hochevar to start the ninth.
Davis (7-11), who was moved to the bullpen in September after 24 starts, took the loss. Cody Allen (6-1), the fifth of seven Cleveland pitchers, picked up the victory, while Chris Perez wrapped it up with a perfect ninth, logging his 25th save in 29 opportunities.
Yordano "Ace" Ventura, the Royals' top pitching prospect who was making his much anticipated Major League debut, left after 5 2/3 innings to a standing ovation with a 3-1 lead. But the bullpen failed to hold it.
Ventura, 22, allowed one run on five hits, while walking two and striking out three.
"It was very nice," Ventura said through teammate Bruce Chen, who acted as an interpreter, of the crowd cheering him. "And Salvador (Perez) when he went to the mound told me if they give you a standing ovation, tip your hat in appreciation."
Michael Brantley's run-producing single, scoring Nick Swisher, finished Ventura. Will Smith was brought in to face Cabrera, but Smith walked him to load the bases. Louis Coleman was summoned to face Ryan Raburn, and Coleman struck him out on a 3-2 pitch, preserving the 3-1 lead.
"That was pretty much a must win for us," Swisher said. "We did not want to lose the first two games of this series. They had the young kid going, the crowd was electric. It felt like a playoff game. We needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and we did. It's not always going to be pretty, but we have to find a way to get it done. We are going to keep pushing because we want this. We want it bad."
The Indians tied it in the seventh when Kelvin Herrera hit Yan Gomes with a pitch and then allowed an RBI triple to Bourn. Swisher's fly out to left on a 3-0 count scored Bourn to make it 3-3.
"The hit batsman was crucial at that point with Bourn coming up and hitting a triple right behind it," Yost said. "Those are things late in the season in games of this magnitude you really want to try to stay away from."
Ventura walked Bourn on four pitches to open the game, but three pitches later he induced Swisher to ground into a double play. Ventura struck out Jason Kipnis on four pitches to end the inning and walked to the dugout to a standing ovation.
"Everyone knows I was nervous," Ventura said. "That's why I couldn't throw one strike. But thank God, I was able to make adjustments and get next guy out."
The Royals got a run in the first when Emilio Bonifacio walked and scored on Eric Hosmer's double off the center field wall. Hosmer was just 1-for-12 against Indians right-hander Corey Kluber before the hit.
Ventura started the second inning like he did the first, walking Santana on five pitches, but then coaxed Brantley to ground into a 1-6-3 double play. Cabrera flied out to deep center to end the inning, and Ventura received another standing "O" for his efforts.
The Royals made it 3-0 in the third. Bonifacio singled and stole second. Kluber walked Hosmer and Billy Butler on 10 pitches to load the bases. Salvador Perez's sacrifice fly scored Bonifacio, giving him 24 RBIs since Aug. 23. Mike Moustakas' second double in as many innings scored Hosmer.
Ventura, whose fastball was clocked routinely from 98 mph to 101 mph on the scoreboard radar, allowed just one other hit -- a Cabrera fifth-inning single to right -- in the first five innings.
What made Ventura so tough?
"You mean other than throwing 100 mph?" Swisher said.
Kluber, who was 2-0 in in his first three starts this season against the Royals, left after 4 2/3 innings and 79 pitches, allowing three runs, six hits and three walks.
NOTES: The Royals placed LHP Danny Duffy, who has elbow flexor tendon inflammation, on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Sept. 8. Ventura replaced Duffy in the rotation. To make roster space for Ventura, the Royals placed 1B-DH Carlos Pena, who had an appendectomy on Saturday, on the 60-day disabled list. Pena was 0-for-3, striking out three times, in four games. ... Indians rookie RHP Danny Salazar, who starts Wednesday, has a 1.56 ERA in his past five starts. ... The Indians' victory assured them of a winning record for the first time since winning 96 and the American League Central title in 2007. ... Omaha, a Royals farm club that won the Pacific Coast League title, beat International League champion Durham 2-1 in the Triple-A championship game on Tuesday night. LHP Chris Dwyer picked up the win, retiring the first 20 batters he faced before giving up a hit. He struck out eight and walked none in seven scoreless innings.

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