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Three early runs against a tough starting pitcher who’d given the Kansas City Royals fits last week seemed promising. Unfortunately, those three runs only tied the score and the Cleveland Indians nearly tripled KC’s output.
The Royals fell 8-3 to the Indians on Monday afternoon in front of an announced 13,121 at Progressive Field in a makeup game originally scheduled for last Wednesday and postponed by rain.
The game completed a four-game series between the AL Central rivals that started last week. Each team won two games.
The Royals (71-85) went 4-3 on their final road trip of the season and finished with three consecutive winning road trips.
Royals All-Star catcher Salvador Perez went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs and a run scored. Outfielders Kyle Isbel and Andrew Benintendi also had doubles. Benintendi recorded his 25th RBI of the month (25 games).
Last Tuesday, Indians starting pitcher Cal Quantrill held the Royals to one earned run in 6 2/3 innings in Cleveland.
Quantrill entered Monday’s game having allowed no more than one earned run in 10 of his 13 starts since the All-Star break.
The Royals got on the board first with an early run against Quantrill after Nicky Lopez singled and scored on a Perez double down the left-field line.
However, the Indians jumped on Royals starting pitcher Jackson Kowar for a pair of first-inning runs on Amed Rosario’s RBI double and a Franmil Reyes sacrifice fly that scored Rosario two batters later. The Indians added another run in the second to take a 3-1 lead on Andres Gimenez’s two-out RBI double.
The Royals tied the score in the third courtesy of a pair of two-out hits from Perez and Benintendi. Perez’s RBI single scored Isbel, who doubled to start the inning. Then Benintendi ripped an RBI double into the right-field corner that Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer had to scramble to track down as Perez scored from first.
“You could feel a little bit of a buzz in the dugout, guys feeling good about a good offensive approach,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “It just comes back to get us. We need those shutdown innings. We talk about situational hitting, getting guys over and in. We did a pretty good job of getting it done. We missed an opportunity or two.
“But the other thing is, when we score, being able to shut the door afterwards and keep momentum going. That got to us twice today.”
Rosario blasted a leadoff homer in the bottom of the third to give the Indians a 4-3 edge.
Kowar, who made his seventh start in the majors, gave up five extra-base hits in the outing, including four doubles and one home run.
Kowar got into trouble in the fifth inning after he gave up back-to-back singles and a fielder’s choice that didn’t result in an out. Shortstop Nicky Lopez, who was playing on the first-base side of second base due to an infield shift, couldn’t beat the runner to second base in an attempt to record the force out. That left the bases loaded with no outs.
Kowar recorded a strikeout before he handed the ball over to left-hander Gabe Speier with one out and the bases loaded. An RBI groundout gave the Indians a run and a 5-3 lead, but Speier didn’t allow anything else in that inning.
Kowar allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings.
“I thought I had pretty good stuff today,” Kowar said. “I thought I had stuff to help us win the game. Then to look up and we score some in the first, get some momentum, and I give it right back. I’m getting a little tired, to be honest, of having to come here and say that and have taken us out of games. I’m getting really frustrated.
“There’s only so many times you can say I grinded or I battled. Today is one of those days where it’s not a battle day. It’s a day when your offense is clicking early and you’ve got to go out there and win your team a game. ... I’ve got to go out there and do my job, and I did not do that today.”
An unearned run in the sixth after a two-out fielding error by second baseman Whit Merrifield made the score 6-3. The Indians added two more in the eighth, including Bradley Zimmer’s solo home run against older brother and Royals relief pitcher Kyle Zimmer.
Bradley Zimmer’s homer marked the fourth time in the modern era (since 1900) that a brother has homered off his brother, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The teams will begin a three-game series Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. The pitching matchup will feature Royals right-hander Brady Singer (5-10, 4.72) against Indians right-hander Aaron Civale (11-5, 3.90).