By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: At least the Indians didn’t blow a late lead that would haunt them down the stretch.
No, this was a standard, routine, garden variety loss. Happens all the time to every team in the big leagues.
The pitching wasn’t quite sharp enough, the offense was a little short, and the Kansas City Royals earned a 6-3 win Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
It didn’t kill the Tribe’s chances to win a playoff berth; the club still trails the Tampa Bay Rays by 1½ games for the second wild-card berth, but with 18 games left in the regular season, time is not on Cleveland’s side.
The Tribe amassed 12 hits, but most of them were wasted.
“We got some hits, but we didn’t bunch them together, and we rolled into some double plays,” manager Terry Francona said.
For the third consecutive start, Zach McAllister failed to get past the fifth inning. But he didn’t really falter until the sixth Tuesday night.
“I thought their speed bothered him a little bit,” Francona said. “He also didn’t have his best change-up. Early in the game, they were very aggressive and that helped him.”
Over the first five innings, McAllister (7-9, 4.11 ERA) allowed three hits and two walks, with the only Royals run coming on Alcides Escobar’s fourth home run of the season. Escobar hadn’t gone deep in 467 at-bats, dating to April 28 in a game against the Tribe.
Eric Hosmer led off the sixth by drawing a walk, and Billy Butler doubled him to third. Mike Moustakas followed with a double to score both runners, and Salvador Perez singled up the middle to score Moustakas.
That ended the workday for McAllister, who was charged with four runs, six hits and three walks. In his past three starts, McAllister has allowed 13 runs and 17 hits in 13⅓ innings.
“Everything was about the same [in the sixth],” McAllister said. “I was a little erratic, but that was kind of like the whole game for me.’’
The Royals stole two bases, but after McAllister left. However, the constant threat of their running game can disconcert a pitcher.
“It’s in the back of your head,” McAllister said. “They’re one of the best base-stealing teams in the major leagues for a reason. They can create havoc for you.”
Nick Hagadone had little luck in relief of McAllister. He finished out the sixth without allowing another run, but he was sabotaged by two singles that strung together probably wouldn’t have reached past the pitcher’s mound.
Those hits eventually led to the Royals’ fifth run driven in by Butler’s sacrifice fly off C.C. Lee.
Green High’s own David Lough spoiled the party for Lee when he tripled with one out in the eighth and scored on Escobar’s single. Until Thursday night, Lee’s major-league career consisted of three scoreless appearances (two innings).
Jeremy Guthrie probably barely remembers that he was a first-round draft pick of the Tribe in the 2002 draft. OK, probably not. But it’s hard to imagine he harbors hard feelings about his stay in the Cleveland organization.
With that in mind, why didn’t he treat his former club with a little more kindness? Inducing Indians batsmen to bounce into three double plays was hardly a gesture of friendship.
“We were one hit from doing some damage, but we didn’t get that hit,” Francona said.
The only run that Guthrie (14-10, 4.11 ERA) allowed came in the first inning, when Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley all singled after two were out.
Thanks to the double-play balls, Guthrie sailed through six innings, despite giving up nine hits. It also helped that he didn’t walk anyone.
After Guthrie left, the Tribe quickly disposed of Kelvin Herrera, who gave up hits to three of the four batters he faced in the seventh inning.
Yan Gomes led off with a single and Lonnie Chisenhall’s one-out single pushed Gomes to third. Michael Bourn followed with a two-run double that cut the Royals’ lead to 5-3. Luke Hochevar relieved Herrera and quickly snuffed the rally. He pitched to five batters and struck them all out to get Kansas City through the eighth inning.
Chisenhall led the attack with a double and two singles; Brantley and Santana each had two hits.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. 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.