Francisco Lindor drove in three runs, Jose Ramirez homered twice and the Cleveland Indians rallied to beat the bumbling Kansas City Royals 8-4 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.
Tyler Naquin and Jason Kipnis also drove in runs for the suddenly streaking Indians, who beat the Royals — losers of four straight and seven of eight — for the fifth time in six meetings.
Adam Cimber (4-2) tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief as the Indians’ bullpen bailed out Zach Plesac. Their ineffective starter allowed three runs and three hits in just 2 2/3 innings.
Kansas City only managed three more hits in a game delayed 2 1/2 hours at the start by rain.
Still, the Royals were clinging to a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Jorge Lopez (1-7) coughed up hits to the only four batters he faced. Kevin Plawecki and Bobby Bradley started the inning with singles, and Naquin doubled home Plawecki before Lindor laced a two-run single to give Cleveland the lead.
Lindor later scored as the Indians proceeded to score six times in the frame.
The Royals’ meltdown wasted another solid start by Homer Bailey, who allowed two runs and six hits in five-plus innings. Bailey still has not lost a game since June 1.
Plesac faced the minimum through the first two innings, but he appeared to struggle with his grip when a muggy afternoon followed all the rain. At one point, manager Terry Francona and a trainer came out with a towel so that Plesac could dry off his hands and arms.
It didn’t seem to do much for his ability to throw strikes.
Cam Gallagher singled in the third, Terrence Gore walked and Whit Merrifield singled before Adalberto Mondesi laid down a squeeze bunt that the fleet-footed shortstop turned into an RBI base hit.
Hunter Dozier walked later in the inning, and Jorge Soler’s bases-loaded walk gave the Royals a 3-1 lead and brought Francona to the mound again — this time to summon a reliever.
A.J. Cole and Tyler Clippard joined Cimber in keeping the Indians in the game, and their offense got them within a run in the fifth. Two innings later, the offense gave them the lead for good.
Royals manager Ned Yost acknowledged catcher Salvador Perez (Tommy John surgery) is making progress in his recovery, and that “he’s itching to start catching sides.” Perez had surgery in spring training and is aiming to be back next spring.
“There’s no throwing involved. He can’t,” Yost said, “but he is so focused on his rehab to get him back. It’s a lot of work.”
Yost wasn’t surprised Soler was snubbed for next week’s All-Star Home Run Derby, despite having hit 23 this season.
“You know that old saying, ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire?'” Yost asked. “I couldn’t smell no smoke. I wasn’t surprised. I thought he’d be a great pick for it, though.”
The Royals wrap up their pre-All-Star break slate with three games in Washington starting Friday night, when RHP Brad Keller (4-9, 4.63 ERA) takes the mound. The Indians have Friday off before closing the first half with a pair of games in Cincinnati this weekend.
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