CLEVELAND – The Indians wasted a four-run rally in the ninth inning Sunday as a bullpen that has had some rough outings as of late was not very good on Sunday in a 9-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals in 10 innings.
Nick Goody gave up a solo homer to lead off the 10th to Royals 1B Ryan O’Hearn, his second homer of the day after he entered the game hitting just .165 with seven homers.
The loss combined with the Twins win over the Tigers puts the Tribe back to 3.5 games back in the American League Central. The Indians will have Monday off before they start a three-game set in Detroit on Tuesday.
Shane Bieber got the start for the Indians, and he had tough first three innings allowing three runs on six hits, but settled in and retired the last 13 batters he faced.
The setback puts the Indians back to 21 games over .500, dropping them to 76-55 on the year.
Here’s three insights on the Sunday setback at Progressive Field:
1. Pen Problems
The Indians and Royals were knotted up at three apiece when Shane Bieber left the game after seven innings, and from there it was a struggle as the bullpen just didn’t throw the ball well.
It started with Nick Wittgren, who two batters in allowed a two-run homer to Jorge Soler to make it a 5-3 game.
Phil Maton was even worse, giving up two runs, walking three batters, throwing a wild pitch and recording just one out. Maton is sporting a 7.58 ERA.
Next up was Hunter Wood, who gave up a rocket shot double to Nicky Lopez that scored a pair (that were credited to Maton) to make it an 8-3 affair.
After the Indians rallied to tie it with the homers in the 9th by Francisco Lindor and Franmil Reyes, it took one batter for Nick Goody to give it back and lose the game.
The at-bat was by Ryan O’Hearn, who slammed his second homer of the day, a 365-foot shot just over the wall in right to make it a 9-8 game.
The line on the pen – three innings, six runs (four earned), three hits, four walks, five K’s and two homers.
2. Life Without Jose
If the Indians are going to make the postseason, they are going to have to do it minus the services of Jose Ramirez, who has a fracture in his hand.
Ramirez is going to have surgery on Monday in New York, and likely won’t be back till next season.
With JRam out, the team is going to go with an extended audition to youngster Yu Chang and veteran Mike Freeman.
Chang got the call-up and start on Sunday, and while the offense was scuffling early, he was a bright spot, drawing a walk and scoring in the third, hitting a single in the fourth, and then in the 7th he led off the inning with a triple and scored to tie the game at three.
Freeman got an at-bat late, and likely it’s going to be a back and forth between he and Chang for playing time in the Indians lineup.
The team will miss Ramirez, as he was hitting .327 in the second half.
3. Bieber’s Start and Finish
Shane Bieber scuffled early, allowing the bases to be loaded in the first but working out of it, and then allowing two runs in the second and a run on O’Hearn’s first homer of the day in the third.
The Tribe pitcher said he was more aggressive on the mound after that, and even got a little frustrated, as he was able to retire the final 13 batters he faced.
In that time frame he also struck out seven batters, and didn’t allow a walk.
On the day Bieber went seven innings, allowing three runs, two earned on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.
He threw a total of 111 pitches, 75 of which were strikes. Bieber will be back on the mound Saturday for the Indians when they play in Tampa against the Rays.
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