KANSAS CITY: The Detroit Tigers found a way to come back from an 8-1 deficit for a walk-off victory over Chicago with two home runs in the ninth just as the Indians game against the Royals was headed into its second rain delay of the evening.
Yep, it was that kind of dreary, play-from-behind kind of day for the Tribe, whose 5-1 loss dropped them to 6 ½ games behind American League Central Division-leading Detroit with 3 ½ weeks to go in the regular season.
An all-day drenching foreshadowed the gloomy theme Saturday at Kauffman Stadium, as the contest was first delayed by 20 minutes at the start, then paused for another 16 minutes with one out in the top of the second inning.
The wet stuff was eventually kept at bay long enough to get the game completed in its entirety.
But after a promising start in which the Tribe took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Ezequiel Carrera led off with a single, advanced two bases on a throwing error then scored on Carlos Santana’s sacrifice fly, the Indians offense ran dry the rest of the way.
Kansas City’s Luke Hochevar committed the error that put Carrera in scoring position and lead to the Tribe’s unearned run in the first. But after that miscue, the right-hander settled in to shut out the punchless visitors through eight solid frames, limiting them to just three hits on the night while striking out eight.
“Hochaver pitched an outstanding ball game against us,” Tribe manager Manny Acta said. “He was as good as we’ve seen him over the last two years. He just pounded the strike zone and the second time around (the lineup) he started our left handers with a back door breaking ball. He had every one of his pitches working and just dominated our lineup.”
Meanwhile, Tribe starter David Huff let the Royals nickel and dime him right back into the game.
“David gave us the effort but didn’t make pitches - especially with two outs - and couldn‘t finish hitters,” Acta said. “The majority of the runs were after two outs and two strikes in the count…He just didn‘t make certain pitches when he had to. Still, we couldn’t do anything offensively, so it didn’t matter how much he contained them.”
The come back began with two runs in the bottom of the first inning driven in by Jeff Francoeur’s two-out and 44th double of the season that tied him with Jermain Dye (1999) for doubles in a season by a Kansas City outfielder.
The Royals then took the lead by adding single runs off Huff in the second inning on Alex Gordon‘s RBI-fielder‘s choice, in the fifth on Billy Butler’s run-scoring double and on Johnny Giavotella’s one-out solo home run in the sixth.
That was the end of the road for Huff, who gave up the five runs (four earned) on six hits and a walk while striking out three over six innings to take the loss.
“I felt really good,” Huff said. “The result wasn’t what I really wanted but I was making pitches in certain counts and I think I only made two mistakes - one to Butler for the double and the one to the smallest guy on their team (Giavotella). I kind of left the ball up and over the middle to Butler and then the one to Giavotella was a change up that just kind of ran back over the middle.”
Huff admitted catching only a brief glimpse of the Tigers comeback. But scoreboard watching is fruitless as the long as the Tribe isn’t taking care of its end of the deal.
“Who cares what Detroit does if we don’t win?” Acta said. “We have to take care of our own business.”
Huff echoed the statement.
“We have to start winning or else,” he said. “Before we know it, our season is going to be over.”
Still, there’s no feeling sorry for themselves allowed by Acta, despite his injury-riddled team playing with a lineup currently featuring a bulk of rookies.
“It’s our team right now, we can’t sit here and complain,” Acta said. “They ran out their four guys that were from (Triple-A) Omaha and we ran out five that were at (Triple-A) Columbus. You still have to get out there and fight and try to win the ballgame.”