KANSAS CITY, Mo.: A walk is not the most exciting play in baseball, but keep in mind the aphorism, “Walks will kill you.”
And so Kansas City Royals pitchers walked eight and lost to the Indians 6-5 Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Three Tribe batters who walked came around to score, another walk forced in a run.
In the end, it became a battle of the bullpens after the Royals tied the score 4-4 in the fifth.
The Tribe scored twice in the seventh off Tim Collins and Aaron Crow. Collins was the primary culprit, walking the first two batters of the inning then leaving the scene.
Then again Crow was hardly blameless. He walked Nick Swisher to load the bases with nobody out before limiting the damage to two runs, the first on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana, the second on Jason Giambi’s two-out double.
Corey Kluber lasted 5⅓ innings, which left 3⅔ for the bullpen, plenty of time to make a statement.
Nick Hagadone relieved Kluber with one out and a runner on first in the sixth. He walked the first batter but struck out the next, giving way to Cody Allen, who finished the inning with ground ball back to the mound.
Joe Smith retired the side in order in the seventh, striking out one, but Vinnie Pestano struggled, giving up a run in the eighth on Billy Butler’s RBI double. In the ninth, Chris Perez gave up a walk and a single but got the side out to earn his eighth save of the season.
Kluber gave the Royals nothing for four innings except a double off the bat of Salvador Perez with one out in the second. So it was almost a shocking turn of events, when Mike Moustakas led off the fifth with a single, David Lough followed with another single, and Johnny Giovatella walked to load the bases with nobody out.
When Jarrod Dyson hit a fly ball to medium left field, it looked like the Royals would dent the scoreboard. But Moustakas sprinted 20 feet down the third-base line after Michael Brantley caught the ball then changed his mind and hustled back to third.
Brantley is starting to earn the reputation as a guy who is tough to run on, but the ball hit by Dyson seemed deep enough that nobody would have thrown Moustakas out.
But just when it appeared that Kluber had caught a huge break, he ran the count to 3-and-0 on Alex Gordon, who hit the next pitch deep over the wall in right for a grand slam to tie the score. Gordon has nine career at-bats against Kluber and three hits. Two are home runs.
The way Kluber had been pitching, it appeared the Tribe’s 4-0 lead was safe.
Royals starter Luis Mendoza got in immediate trouble when he walked Brantley, leading off the first inning. One out later, Jason Kipnis and Swisher singled to load the bases, and Mendoza walked Santana to force home the first run of the game.
And when Mendoza hit Mark Reynolds with a pitch — it appeared to bounce off his shoulder hitting the earpiece of his helmet — another run scored. Mendoza was saved by a double-play ball hit by Giambi.
The Tribe struck again, a little more forcefully, in the fourth. Giambi led off with a single and stopped at second on Lonnie Chisenhall’s single. One out later, Brantley walked to load the bases, and Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a two-run single before Kipnis bounced into a double play.
What the Indians gained in drawing walks was neutralized by grounding into four double plays.
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.