CLEVELAND -- For the second consecutive day, the Indians were silent for nearly the entire day before a rally in the ninth fell just short in a 5-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals. The Indians (77-60) were blanked by Royals starting pitcher Jakob Junis, who allowed only two hits in seven scoreless innings and were on their way to a quiet five-run loss.
But, as they did in Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Indians put together a rally to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth.
Francisco Lindor hit a solo home run off right-hander Wily Peralta to cut the Royals’ lead to 5-1. With that home run, Lindor joined Jose Ramirez as the first pair of switch-hitting teammates in major-league history to belt at least 30 home runs in the same season.
Michael Brantley followed with a single and, with one out, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion each drew walks to load the bases.
That brought in left-handed reliever Tim Hill and pinch-hitter Yandy Diaz. Holding the Indians’ first real chance to make some noise at the plate all day, Diaz grounded into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. It was enough to make it interesting but, in the end, it was another day of far too many poor swings.
“We’re certainly not swinging it great the last 3-4 days,” manager Terry Francona said. “Some of that had to do with Tampa’s pitching. That’s just the way the game goes. It was nice to see Frankie take that swing in the last inning. Hopefully that gets him going. Josey took his walk. That’s good. We’ll be OK. It’s not a lot of fun going through it, but we’ll be OK.”
Indians starter Adam Plutko was hit for four runs on seven hits, most of the damage coming on three solo home, one from Jorge Bonifacio and two by Ryan O’Hearn. The Indians had trouble getting much of anything going for most of the day, but the Royals teed off.
“There’s been a lot of good, but the long ball has beaten me,” Plutko said. “I gotta keep the ball in the yard. That’s the bottom line.”
Making his second major-league appearance since 2015 after being called up on Saturday Jon Edwards gave up a solo home run to Hunter Dozier to make it 5-0 in the eighth.
The Minnesota Twins lost to the Houston Astros on Monday in a game that’s connected to the Indians in two ways. The Twins loss dropped the Indians’ magic number to clinch the American League Central title to 12 but the Astros now have a 7.5-game lead on the Indians for the No. 2 seed in the AL playoffs.