Bottom of the order lifts Royals past Indians
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals’ hitting stars Sunday included three seldom-used players.
The bottom four of the lineup — Jorge Bonifacio, Alcides Escobar, Cheslor Cuthbert and Cameron Gallagher — came up huge in the Royals’ 7-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
The four combined to go 9-for-14 with all seven RBIs, scored four runs, had a sacrifice fly and drew a walk.
Cuthbert homered and drove in three runs. Escobar prolonged his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games with two hits and three RBIs. Bonifacio had three hits, including a double, and scored twice. Gallagher had two singles, walked and drove in a run.
Cuthbert made his first start since Aug. 13. Gallagher and Bonifacio last had an at-bat on Monday.
“The bottom of the lineup was tremendous,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Some good at-bats down there.”
After being outscored 15-1 in losing the first two games of the series, the Royals salvaged the final game.
“If you get beat the first two games, win that third one and instead of being 8 1/2 games back you’re 6 1/2 back,” Yost said. “They’re two-game swings.”
Jason Hammel (6-9) picked up his third victory over the Indians this season. He allowed three runs, five hits and a walk with three strikeouts in six innings. He is 3-0 with a 3.37 ERA in three starts this season against Cleveland.
“He did what he’s been doing for us a whole lot lately,” Yost said. “He gave us six good innings, held them to three runs and kept us in the ballgame to give us a chance to win. He did a great job. We needed that.”
Danny Salazar (5-6), who had a 1.39 ERA in five starts since coming off the disabled list on July 22, was roughed up for a career-high 12 hits and six runs in 4 2/3 innings. That was the most hits an Indians starter has allowed this season.
“So much traffic, only one clean inning,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Every inning he had to work. He didn’t have his best fastball most of the day. There were times we saw it, but it didn’t look crisp, and he hung a changeup to Cuthbert.
“You hoped he could kind of dodge a few bullets, but at some point there is so much traffic that you knew they were going to score.
“We did a good job of working his (Hammel’s) pitch count and everything. I think it’s one of those days when you get down and you spend so much time on defense, it kind of takes some of your energy away. It’s not an excuse. He beat us.”
Indians catcher Yan Gomes said Salazar lacked consistency of his pitches.
“He was getting some good swing and misses on some of them,” Gomes said. “At times when we needed a great pitch, he tended to make a little bit of a mistake, but you know what? He still went out there and try to pitch his tail off. You know sometimes it doesn’t all work.”
The Royals grouped three hits and a walk in the second inning for two runs. Mike Moustakas led off the inning with a walk, stopped at third on Bonifacio’s double to center and scored on Escobar’s single. Gallagher’s one-out single to shallow center got Bonifacio home.
“We knew we had to get this one,” Bonifacio said.
Bradley Zimmer led off the Cleveland third with a bunt single and scored on Francisco Lindor’s 20th home run, which landed high off the right-field foul pole.
The Indians went ahead 3-2 in the top of the fourth when Jay Bruce, who singled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, scored on Austin Jackson’s sacrifice fly.
The Royals tied it in the bottom of the inning when Cuthbert went deep to left on an 0-2 pitch from Salazar. Cuthbert is 5-for-8 lifetime against Salazar.
The Royals scored three in the fifth and chased Salazar. Cuthbert had a two-out, two-run RBI single and Escobar singled home the other run.
Escobar’s seventh-inning sacrifice fly scored Moustakas to cap the Royals’ scoring.
The Indians got a run in the ninth after Austin Jackson led off with a triple and scored on Gomes’ groundout.
NOTES: Indians RHP Corey Kluber threw a side session to test his right ankle, which he sprained Friday and exited in the sixth inning. “No restrictions,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s good to go Wednesday.” ... The Royals plan to activate All-Star C Salvador Perez on Tuesday or Wednesday. He is on the disabled list with a strained right intercostal. ... Royals 2B Whit Merrifield led off the first inning with a ground-ball single to center, snapping an 0-for-23 slump. ... The Royals’ 15 hits matched the most the Indians have given up in a game this season. ... The Indians, who went 8-3 on their four-city trip, open a four-game home series on Monday against the Boston Red Sox. Boston LHP Eduardo Rodriguez and Cleveland RHP Mike Clevinger are the probables. The Indians have lost two of three games to the Red Sox this season. ... The Royals are off Monday before hosting the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game interleague series.