CLEVELAND, Ohio – The last time the Indians faced Brad Keller, they scored a run against him in 6 1/3 innings. To date, this is the only game Shane Bieber has started this year that the Indians have not won.
They did better Monday night at Progressive Field in a 5-2 win over the Royals. The Indians have won 14 of their last 19 games to advance to first place with the inactive White Sox at AL Central. The Royals have lost seven in a row.
Zach Plesac pitched seven solid innings to win his second straight game against the Royals since ending his exile at Classic Park on September 1. . He’s 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA against Kansas City in six games since making his league debut last year.
“When you’re not walking around and you have good separation of your locations, that’s a good recipe,” said Sandy Alomar, interim Indian manager, when asked about Plesac.
The Indians did not overwhelm Keller (3-2, 2.60). They just beat him up a little bit at a time.
They took a 2-0 lead in the second as Carlos Santana and Framil Reyes opened the set with singles to put the runners in corners. Santana scored on the hard field of second-place Tyler Naquin who jumped Whit Merrifield’s glove and was deemed an error. Reyes, who went third on the error, scored when Josh Naylor escaped from a potential double play on too short a pitch.
Reyes was happy to see the Royals come to Progressive Field to complete their 10-game streak against the Indians. Last week at Kauffman Stadium he went 10 for 14, but when the Indians returned to Progressive Field Reyes was 0 for 9 against the Brewers. On Monday night, he picked his first two at-bats and walked before making an outing.
“I had some good shots against the Brewers, but the shots weren’t falling,” Reyes said. “I feel good on the plate.”
The Indians went 3-0 in the fourth as Naquin registered his second RBI with a sacrificed fly. Francisco Lindor opened the round with a single and went on to third place with a single through Reyes’ cross.
The lead should have been bigger, but a rare Lindor baseline error in the sixth shorted out a potential big end. Lindor opened the set with a field single. Santana followed with a brace on the right wall that would normally have scored Lindor. But it appeared he had been pushed back by shortstop Adalberto Mondesi on second base.
After treading on the second goal, Lindor started to return to the first base before moving on to the third without touching the second. The Royals called the play and Lindor was called. To make matters worse, Santana’s brace turned into a choice of defender by decision of the official scorer. The Indians, instead of starting the inning with runners on second and third and no outs, did not shoot the inning.
Alomar said Lindor had never seen where Santana’s blow went.
“He knew he missed the second goal, but thought maybe no one had seen him,” Alomar said. ” It happens. It was a basic mistake.
Alomar went to the pitch to talk to the refs about the decision because he felt Lindor hit the second.
“While I was there they replayed on the scoreboard,” Alomar said.
Mondesi went 3-1 with a booming 458-foot homeroom off Plesac with two strikeouts in the seventh.
The Indians returned to bring the score to 5-1 with two points in the seventh. Naylor, Roberto Perez and Oscar Mercado started the round with singles off Keller. Naylor scored on the bouncer Mercado in third place which Maikel Franco couldn’t handle properly. Perez went to third place on Cesar Hernandez’s sloppy sacrifice bunt and scored on Mike Freeman’s sacrifice volley.
Freeman came in seventh to replace Jose Ramirez in third. Ramirez left with “discomfort” in his left thumb.
“It was a nagging thing that in my opinion drained him mentally,” Alomar said. “He felt it again tonight and we made the decision to take him out of the game and give him a chance to recover. We look to Freeman tomorrow.
Plesac (3-1, 1.32) allowed one run on seven hits. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. In 34 innings this season, Plesac has 34 strikeouts and two marches in five starts.
“Consistency with my delivery and a good game plan helped,” said Plesac, when asked about his control. “Mentally I’m trying to have the attitude to get as deep into the game as possible. The only way that will happen is to beat the zone and mix speeds. “
The Royals went 5-2 in the eighth as Hunter Dozier tripled from the center wall and scored on Franco’s single-out against Adam Cimber. Phil Maton picked up and put out the next two hitters. Freeman saved a run by grabbing Alex Gordon’s flare behind third base to complete the round.
Brad Hand, working for the third day in a row, hit the side in sequence in the ninth for his 12th save on as many occasions. In the last three days, he’s 1-0 with two saves.
Kansas City’s RHP Jakob Junis (0-1, 4.32) with Indian rookie right-hander Triston McKenzie (2-0, 1.69) Tuesday at 6:10 p.m., SportsTime Ohio and WTAM will carry the game.
New Indian masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indian-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All MLB profits are donated to charity.
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