When it rains, it pours.
A double-digit scoring effort from baseball’s worst offense handed the Indians a 12-5 loss to the Royals on Saturday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Despite a 3-0 lead, Carlos Carrasco surrendered five earned runs while the defense accounted for three unearned scores on three blunders in the field.
Long balls represent lone offense
Carlos Santana and Bradley Zimmer lifted a pair of home runs over the right field wall to hang an early crooked number on Jason Hammel in the second. Zimmer lifted his blast at a height of 118 feet before the ball landed and provided Cleveland an early advantage.
“We did a good job early,” said manager Terry Francona to reporters. “Carlos with a first-pitch home run and then Zim with a really good at-bat. It looked like maybe we had [Hammel] on the ropes.”
Little production ensued as the Tribe went 2-for-16 against Hammel after the second inning – 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K (96 pitches, 64 strikes, 66.7%, three groundouts, five flyouts).
“We let him settle in,” Francona said. “You look up four innings later and he put up a bunch of zeros. He started using his breaking ball then he was able to elevate his fastball at times or get it past our barrel. We got a lot of chase on the breaking ball.”
Santana doubled in two additional runs in the eighth off Joakim Soria, but the contest was already out of reach.
Carrasco collapses in sixth-inning outburst
With four straight scoreless innings under his belt, Carlos Carrasco appeared to be on his way to a quality start.
One offensive explosion changed all of that.
The red-hot Whit Merrifield extended his league-leading hitting streak to 18 games with a two-run double to trim the margin to one. Shortly thereafter, Mike Moustakas ripped another two-run double, Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer and Kansas City gained its first lead of the contest, 6-3.
“When it was starting to go, it looked like it was going quick,” said Francona. “They were hitting some balls hard.”
“From there, everything just unraveled. They hit the ball hard, we didn’t catch it. It was a sloppy game from that point on. We didn’t do anything good.”
The six-run rally was the largest single-inning total off the Indians in 2017 and led to Nick Goody’s first earned run of the campaign.
“[Goody] hung a breaking ball,” Francona said. “I don’t know that somebody can go through the year not giving up runs. He’s been so good. He just left a breaking ball up.”
Austin Jackson and Jose Ramirez each committed an error to charge Dan Otero with five runs (two earned) before Danny Salazar gave up an RBI double to Salvador Perez, the remaining damage delivered by the home nine.
“When [Salazar] executes pitches, he can go right through a hitter,” said Francona. “But when he doesn’t, there’s that pretty solid contact. We’re kind of still working at it.”
The three-game weekend set concludes on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. ET from Kauffman Stadium.
RHP Trevor Bauer (5-4, 6.00) has a chance to build off his 14-strikeout performance vs. Oakland on Tuesday. The 26-year-old right-hander has yet to allow fewer than two runs in an outing this season.
LHP Eric Skoglund (1-0, 0.00) will make his second big league start, five days after tossing 6.1 scoreless innings against the Tigers. The lanky southpaw was selected in the third round (92nd overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.