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Cleveland Indians

Tribe weathers the storm, defeats Royals

By Sheldon Published: September 19, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo.: When rain, lightning and thunder are the defining characteristics of a baseball game, you can bet that nobody at the ballpark had much fun.

Heavy showers and worse marred the Indians 6-4 win over the Royals Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium from before the first pitch to its conclusion, six hours, 37 minutes after it was scheduled to begin.

Four -- count 'em, four -- stoppages of play ensured that there would more down time than play time. The game began 36 minutes late because of rain, then umpires stopped the action, but changed their minds, causing a two-minute delay after the third inning.

Delay No. 3 occurred while Kansas City was batting in the fourth and lasted one hour, 23 minutes. The fourth delay stopped play after six innings, the umps waiting one hour, 39 minutes. Total time spent waiting: three hours, 40 minutes.

Sean O' Sullivan retired the first nine batters he faced, but suddenly in the fourth inning, the Indians buried him under a six-hit barrage, including the first grand slam of Matt LaPorta's career.

Michael Brantley began the rally with a leadoff single to stretch his hitting streak to 18 games. It is the longest by a Cleveland rookie since Larry Doby hit in 21 consecutive games in 1948.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo followed with singles, Choo's hit driving in Brantley with the first run of the game. After Travis Hafner lined to the left-fielder, Shelley Duncan singled to left to load the bases.

That set the stage for LaPorta, who zeroed in on a waist-high fastball with the count 2-and-1 and sent it soaring through the raindrops over the fence in center to push the Tribe lead to 5-0. LaPorta was hitless in his previous 15 at-bats when he lit into O'Sullivan's pitch.

The Indians have hit three slams in September (Choo and Lou Marson hit the others) and four since Aug. 5, when Hafner went deep against the Mariners. The club has seven grand slams for the season.

Justin Masterson started, in all likelihood for the last time this year. Manager Manny Acta has imposed a 180-inning (or thereabouts) pitch limit on Masterson, who was supposed to finish up his innings in the bullpen.

But he was forced to take the Saturday night start of Mitch Talbot, who is nursing a sore right shoulder and should be back in the rotation by Thursday. Masterson began the game with 173 innings, so theoretically he had seven left before he was maxed out.

Heavy showers ensured that he wouldn't reach his limit. With one out, two on and a 2-and-2 count on Josh Fields, the umpires summoned the grounds crew to roll out the tarp for the third time.

Acta was not going to subject Masterson to any more wear and tear on his arm after he had cooled off for one-hour, 23 minutes, the length of the delay. Masterson did not allow a run and gave up three hits, striking out four.

When play resumed, it was up to Justin Germano to get through the fourth and fifth innings with the lead. Five innings constitutes an official game as long as the score is not tied. And if the game were to be called, the Tribe wanted to make sure those two requirements were met.

Germano had no trouble getting the last two outs of the fourth inning, but when it came time to do the job in the crucial fifth, he stumbled, allowing four runs.

He hit the first batter of the inning, Lucas May, prompting plate umpire Mike Estabrook to warn both benches. Why did Estabrook think Germano pruposely plunked May? Because Dusty Hughes hit Choo (who hit three home runs Friday night) with a pitch in the fifth inning.

Germano struck out Yuniesky Betancourt but gave up the first home run of Jai Miller's career to trim the Royals' deficit to 5-2. Jarrod Dyson followed with a double, and Mike Aviles quickly turned that into two more runs with his sixth homer of the year.

But in the eighth, singles by Choo, Jordan Brown and Jayson Nix generated an insurance run.

Joe Smith, Rafael Perez and Frank Herrmann restored the reputation of the Tribe bullpen by delivering two scoreless innings. Chris Perez pitched the ninth and gave up a hit but recorded his 21st save of the season.

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