For several weeks, it looked as though the Indians had completely folded up the tent and packed it away for next season. They looked lifeless, getting blown out on a nightly basis and occasionally showing a little bit of character with some late-inning rallies after the game was decided. In September, things have been different. The Indians have battled hard, attempting to finish this brutal season on a high note. They did that again on Saturday night, rallying from an early five-run deficit to take the Royals to extra innings and eventually lost 7-6 in 14 innings.
If the first inning was a sign of things to come for the Indians, it was going to be another frustrating night. Back-to-back walks to Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana set up the inning and Lonnie Chisenhall capitalized, doubling down the right field line after a long at bat with several foul balls. The double plated Kipnis and Santana got the stop sign at third. The Indians led 1-0, but it could have been more. Russ Canzler struck out looking and Travis Hafner weakly popped out, leaving two men in scoring position.
Jeanmar Gomez, who was getting his last chance to make a positive impression, blew up in the third. After allowing just a walk over the first two innings, the Royals hung a big, crooked number on Gomez in the third. After a single, a wild pitch, and a walk, Billy Butler sharply singled to left, scoring Irving Falu and sending Alex Gordon to second. Salvador Perez singled to load the bases. Mike Moustakas doubled up the alley in right center field, scoring two runs and putting the Royals ahead 3-1. The next batter, Jeff Francoeur, homered to the bleachers in left to make it a 6-1 ballgame.
Jeff Odorizzi, who threw 65 pitches in two innings, was pulled before the start of the third. Gomez also didn't return to the ballgame. For Gomez, his final start of 2012 was an ugly one, allowing six runs on seven hits, with two walks and two strikeouts. It stayed a 6-1 game until the sixth when the Indians got off the mat and started punching again. It began with a one-out hit-by-pitch of Travis Hafner. Thomas Neal kept the inning alive with a single to left field with two outs. Ezequiel Carrera hit one back to pitcher Nate Adcock, who fumbled with the ball, and then threw it down the right field line. Hafner scored, Neal stopped at third, and Carrera wound up at second. With a chance to get the Indians back into the ballgame, Shin-Soo Choo grounded out.
Trailing 6-2, the Indians bullpen did a phenomenal job keeping the team in the game. In all, the Indians bullpen threw 10 scoreless innings after Gomez left the ballgame, and Chris Seddon, Tony Sipp, Frank Herrmann and Esmil Rogers were instrumental in the comeback. In the eighth inning, Choo cut the lead in half, making it a 6-4 game with his two-out, two-run single. It was Rogers's 1-2-3 ninth inning that got the Indians right back to the plate with momentum on their side.
It paid off. Santana drew a leadoff walk and Chisenhall singled to put two on with nobody out. Casey Kotchman, who entered the game replacing Russ Canzler in the eighth as a pinch hitter, executed a perfect sacrifice bunt. After Cord Phelps struck out, Asdrubal Cabrera, who had pinch hit in the eighth, delivered a game-tying two-run single to shallow right. With a 6-6 game and the bases loaded, Choo flew out to end the ninth and the game went to extra innings.
It stayed a tie game until the 14th inning. Scott Maine gave up a two-out RBI single to Tony Abreu that put the Royals ahead. Again, the Indians didn't roll over. Carrera led off the 14th against Kelvin Herrera with a bunt single. Choo followed with a line-drive rocket to right to put two on with nobody out. Kipnis, after fouling off a sac bunt attempt, drew a walk. With the bases loaded, Santana stepped to the plate and popped the first pitch up to left field for the first out. Chisenhall fell behind 1-2 and lined out to Francoeur in right. Kotchman grounded out and the Indians left the bases loaded with nobody out. They left 20 runners on base.
Stat of the Night: The game featured 18 pitchers. 479 pitches were thrown.
Player of the Game: The Indians bullpen. They were brilliant, throwing 10 scoreless innings before Scott Maine gave up a 14th inning run.
Tomorrow's Game: The Indians and Royals will wrap up this series with Zach McAllister against Luke Hochevar on Sunday afternoon at 1:05.