By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo.: It was Michael Bourn night at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday.
No, the Kansas City Royals did not honor the Indians center fielder, and if they had passed out bobblehead dolls of Bourn’s likeness, most fans would have celebrated by sticking pins in the figurines.
The Tribe had to rally after spotting the Royals a 3-0 lead, and they could not have pulled off the 5-3 win without Bourn, who tripled home one run and homered in the ninth to give the Indians an insurance run.
Bourn came to the plate with one out in the seventh after Yan Gomes had been hit by a pitch. His triple carried to the right-field fence to score the Tribe’s second run of the game. Bourn scored the third when Nick Swisher followed with a sacrifice fly.
Asdrubal Cabrera’s RBI double in the eighth broke the 3-3 tie, and Bourn’s sixth home run of the year to lead off the ninth put some distance between the two teams and made it easier for Chris Perez to earn his 25th save.
The win left the Indians one-half game behind wild-card co-leaders the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers and a half-game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
Yordano Ventura lived up to the hype as one of the top two pitching prospects in the Royals’ farm system.
Making his major-league debut Tuesday night, Ventura lasted 5⅔ innings, allowing five hits, one run and a walk. The surprise is that he struck out three.
For a guy whose pokiest fastball travels 97 miles per hour and at its peak breaks the 100-mph barrier, three strikeouts seems like a paltry total.
Nevertheless, he retired Tribe batsmen with regularity until the sixth inning, when Swisher began a modest rally with a one-out hit off the second baseman. With two out, Carlos Santana blooped a single to right to send Swisher to third, and Michael Brantley’s sharp single to right brought home Swisher.
It is interesting to note that two of Ventura’s speedier pitches landed in the outfield for singles. Brantley’s hit came off a 100-mph fastball, and the Indians’ first hit of the game, a single by Yan Gomes with two out in the third, came on a 102-mph heater. That’s right: 102 mph and no cop in sight.
Ventura walked a batter in each of the first two innings, but both runners were erased on double-play balls.
Corey Kluber didn’t make it through the fifth inning. He didn’t pitch that poorly, but with so much on the line so late in the season, it doesn’t take much for manager Terry Francona to go to his 14-man bullpen.
In the first inning, Kluber gave up a run on a one-out walk to Emilio Bonifacio and a double by Eric Hosmer, but Kluber’s worst moments came in the third.
Bonifacio singled with one out and stole second. Hosmer and Billy Butler walked to load the bases, and Salvador Perez brought home Bonifacio with a sacrifice fly. Mike Moustakas doubled to score another run to put the Royals ahead 3-0.
Moustakas is a hitting machine against Kluber. He came into the game with four hits in 10 career at-bats against the right-hander and doubled twice Tuesday night.
If not for Moustakas, Kluber might have stayed in the game longer. But when Moustakas came to the plate with two out and a runner on first in the fifth, Francona summoned Rich Hill to pitch.
The Tribe bullpen — Hill, Bryan Shaw, Marc Rzepczynski, Cody Allen, Joe Smith and Perez — combined to throw 4⅓ scoreless innings.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.