CLEVELAND: The Indians fought back to send the game into extra innings, but the Kansas City Royals finally prevailed with a run in the 14th inning to earn a 7-6 win Saturday night at Progressive Field.
With Scott Maine on the mound as the Tribe’s eighth reliever of the night, Mike Moustakas drew a leadoff walk but Maine struck out Jeff Francoeur and Brayan Pena. Maine heaved a wild pitch with Tony Abreu at the plate, sending Moustakas to second, and Abreu followed with an RBI single to drive in Moustakas.
The Tribe came back in its half of the 14th only to be stymied by a season-long problem: scoring with the bases loaded.
Ezequiel Carrera led off with a bunt hit, Shin-Soo Choo singled to right and Jason Kipnis drew a walk to fill the bases with nobody out. But Carlos Santana hit a shallow fly to left, Lonnie Chisenhall ripped a liner to the right fielder, and Casey Kotchman grounded out to the first baseman to end it.
The Indians tied the score with two runs in the ninth. In addition to receiving three walks (two of which meant nothing to the rally), the key blows were a pair of bloop hits, one by Chisenhall, the other a two-run double by Asdrubal Cabrera, who wasn’t expected to play until at least today because of a minor injury.
None of this erased the spring training feel of the game because … Jeanmar Gomez pitched one inning against the Royals on Sept. 22 in Kansas City and threw three more Saturday night.
Except that Gomez’s second appearance came as a starter. Maybe three innings is all that manager Sandy Alomar needed to see, or maybe he didn’t want Gomez to feel any worse than he already did after giving up all six runs in the third inning.
With four more games left in the season, the Tribe can focus on two things: trying to beat the White Sox, who are still chasing Central-Division leader Detroit, and going home.
Virtually all serious evaluating to determine the 2013 roster will have to be done next spring training. That includes an evaluation of Gomez, one of several (that is, a multitude) of starters who presumably will be in camp next February, barring off-season trades that shift them to another club’s roster.
After retiring the Royals for two innings, Gomez came out in the third, seemingly having forgotten to bring his arm. After getting the first two batters without incident, he allowed the next five batters to reach base in a rally that culminated with Francoeur’s three-run homer. In addition to giving up five hits during the inning, Gomez walked one and threw a wild pitch.
Do Tribe operatives know anything more about Gomez than they did when the season started? Hard to say.
He began the season in the rotation (except for his first outing) and through his first eight appearances was 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA. Then the bottom dropped out. In his next six starts, Gomez posted a 1-5 record and a 7.92 ERA and landed in Columbus. He returned to Cleveland late in August and hasn’t shown well, giving up 18 earned runs in 16 ⅔ innings.
Does that mean he might be taken seriously as a candidate for the rotation next year? Gomez is still young (24) and has a live arm, so he might get another shot. He and Roberto Hernandez, David Huff, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and possibly Chris Seddon.
Those six pitchers probably will contend for the last two spots in the rotation after Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister and presumably Ubaldo Jimenez are assigned spots one through three. At some point, Josh Tomlin will to return from elbow surgery.
The Indians were well out of Saturday night’s game until they scored their second run on a hit batter, Thomas Neal’s single and two errors by reliever Nathan Adcock.
In the eighth, the Tribe struck for two more runs with Choo delivering a two-run single. Both Cabrera and Michael Brantley, who like Cabrera was not expected to play until at least today, pinch hit, with Cabrera striking out and Brantley producing a single.
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.