The last week of Indians baseball has been one of the worst in recent memory. Not only have they lost six straight games, but they looked apathetic and disspirited in the process. The Indians, at least according to Chris Perez, have a chip on their shoulder about the Browns being the city's golden sports child and the team that gets the most attention. What's going on with the Browns has fallen in line perfectly as the Indians have fallen flat on their faces and completely out of the playoff race. They fell behind 6-0 in the first inning on Thursday night, showed signs of life in battling back to tie the game, but eventually lost their sixth straight game 7-6, in 11 innings.
Corey Kluber made his Major League starting debut and would have had a decent outing had it not been for the first inning. After the Indians ran themselves out of a run in the first, with Shin-Soo Choo getting caught stealing at third base and Asdrubal Cabrera subsequently singling right afterward, Kluber gave up a home run on his first pitch of the game. It was Alex Gordon's first jog around the bases since June 12. Gordon has just six home runs this season after belting 23 in 2011. The inning got progressively worse for Kluber. Alcides Escobar singled and stole second. After Billy Butler grounded out and Mike Moustakas struck out, Kluber walked Brayan Pena. To put how egregious that is into perspective, Pena has walked just 47 times in his eight-year career. As is usually the case, the next batter, Eric Hosmer, mired in the worst year of his baseball career, hit a three-run homer. Kluber would give up another run on a triple and a single to leave the first inning down 6-0.
With many people in Cleveland turning their TVs off at this point, the Indians got a run back in the second and three more in the third. Vinny Rottino, added to the big league club with Travis Hafner on the paternity list, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the second. The sac fly scored Michael Brantley who led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a groundout. In the third, Carlos Santana continued his tear, picking up a two-run single. The Indians had loaded the bases with three straight singles before Santana's knock. Brantley added a sac fly to cut the lead to 6-4.
Credit Corey Kluber for settling down and giving the Indians some kind of length. He only went 4.1 innings, but didn't allow another run after the first inning outburst. If nothing else, it gives him something to build on for his next start. Before Kluber left, Santana pretty much took him off the hook for the loss with a game-tying two-run homer. It was the second consecutive night with a home run for Santana, who has just 11 round trippers on the season.
Tony Sipp, Joe Smith, and Vinnie Pestano combined to keep the Royals off the board while Kelvin Herrera and Tim Collins did the same to the Indians. The Indians went to extra innings for the first time since June 19 and just the second time since May 17. The Royals and their collection of hard throwing relievers allowed just one hit and struck out six over the final five innings.
Esmil Rogers gave up back-to-back two-out singles to Butler and Moustakas to start a Kansas City rally in the 10th, but Pena grounded out sharply to first to send the game to another inning. In the 11th, Aaron Crow set the Indians down in order, the third straight time that happened. Hosmer led off KC's 11th with a single to right, moved to second on a Chris Getz sac bunt, and then moved to third on a wild pitch. Rogers retired Jarrod Dyson on a pop up to center for the second out. With closer Chris Perez throwing in the bullpen, Manny Acta made a visit to the mound with Gordon coming to the plate. He intentionally walked Gordon to face the righty Escobar. After the IBB, Acta came back to the mound to get Perez. Escobar singled and the Royals won.
With the loss, the Indians fall to 50-55, 7.5 games behind idle Chicago. Esmil Rogers fell to 1-3, Aaron Crow improved to 2-1.
Stat of the Night: It could be worse...the 2010 Indians were 16 games under .500 after play on August 2.
Player of the Game: Carlos Santana. A four RBI effort from Santana, along with another home run. If only he'd have been doing that when the Indians were playing well.
Tomorrow's Game: The Indians head to Detroit to take on the Tigers. Justin Masterson will face off against Anibal Sanchez. First pitch at 7:05 p.m.