A mixture of fine offensive production and premium pitching performances proved to be more than enough to break a two-game losing streak on Friday evening.
The Cleveland Indians ousted the Kansas City Royals by a score of 7-2 in front of a crowd of 24,741 at Kauffman Park.
He had to wait an extra day, but LHP Ryan Merritt finally toed the rubber for his first major league start. Posting a 3.70 earned run average in 24 minor league appearances this summer, Merritt finished the evening with a final line of 5 IP 3 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 4 K (62 pitches, 40 strikes, 65%).
If it was not for a pitch count, the southpaw out of McLennan Community College would have been able to work even deeper into the contest. It had been an 18-day layoff since the 24-year old last pitched in a game at both the major and minor league levels.
Lindor ends hitting slump
Indians SS Francisco Lindor put some needed closure to a 0-for-27 skid with a walk, double, home run, three runs batted in, and a memorable celebration at second base.
The Puerto Rican shortstop doubled in the top of the third frame putting an end to the hitting slump. Shortly thereafter, Lindor threw his arms up in the air to celebrate the hit. His three-run homer in the seventh inning (15th of the season) put the Royals out of reach and moved the score to 7-1.
Also helping the Tribe’s cause on Friday was Carlos Santana with three hits including a double and triple, Jose Ramirez with a pair of hits, and 1.2 scoreless innings from the dominant bullpen duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
Both the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox won their respective matchups to keep Cleveland within a half game of the second seed. The Rangers have officially clinched the top seed in the American League postseason bracket.
The Indians and Royals continue their three-game series on Saturday afternoon at 4:15 PM from Kauffman Park.
RHP Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26) and RHP Edinson Volquez (10-11, 5.37) are scheduled to make their final regular season starts in the Central Division affair.
Slated to make his 28th start (35th appearance) of the campaign, Bauer will look to conclude his rough September stretch (6.75 ERA) on a high note.
Likewise, Volquez will limp his way to the finish line of the 2016 regular season with 21 earned runs allowed in 24.1 innings of work this past month.