KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)Eddie Rosario kept his bat on his shoulder. Salvador Perez held his glove still to frame the pitch.
Both listened for Dan Bellino to make the call.
The plate umpire waited a tense moment before finally signaling ball on what could just as easily have been strike three, giving Rosario another chance. He swatted the very next pitch into the right-field stands for a tiebreaking three-run homer Monday night that sent Cleveland to an 8-6 win over the Kansas City Royals.
”I was just looking for hard contact,” Rosario said through an interpreter. ”I wasn’t looking for a home run.”
He got it. So did Josh Naylor, who added a two-run shot off Royals reliever Jakob Junis (1-2) two batters later that turned what would have been a scoreless seventh inning with Rosario’s would-be punch-out into a five-run frame.
Bryan Shaw (1-0) coughed up a run in relief of Indians starter Aaron Civale, and James Karinchak gave up Hunter Dozier’s two-run homer later in the seventh, before their bullpen finally wrapped up their sixth win in eight games.
Emmanuel Clase worked around a single in the ninth for his sixth save. He’s yet to allow an earned run in 13 1/3 innings.
”We’re playing good baseball. We’re playing aggressive baseball,” Rosario said, ”and that’s going to help us win games.”
Naylor finished with three RBIs and Franmil Reyes returned from the paternity list to drive in two more for the Indians. Whit Merrifield hit a two-run homer and Jorge Soler drove in two runs for Kansas City.
Daniel Lynch, the latest in the Royals’ promising pitching pipeline, had little to show for his solid big league debut.
The No. 34 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Lynch overcame some early nerves to allow four hits and four walks and left to a standing ovation with a 3-1 lead. But the lanky left-hander also left two runners on with two outs in the fifth inning, and reliever Scott Barlow immediately gave up Reyes’ double to tie the game 3-all.
”It’s always a hard decision to pull a pitcher out, especially when you have a starter and you want to see him go deeper in the game,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. ”You’re talking about his first day out, being in stress throughout the game, the third time through their order – the meat of their order – and we had a well-rested bullpen.”
The outcome didn’t take too much shine off an otherwise memorable day, though.
”I felt like I could barely see, I was so juiced up,” Lynch said. ”It was just a really amazing experience.”
The Royals wasted a chance to regain the lead and put pressure on Cleveland in the sixth. They loaded the bases with two outs before Andrew Benintendi hit a weak grounder to the right side of the infield to end the inning.
In the seventh, the Indians had a pair of runners aboard with two outs when Rosario – with a 1-2 count on him – watched a pitch from Junis miss just outside. Rosario homered on the next offering to give the Indians their first lead at 6-3, and Naylor’s two-run homer provided a cushion they would ultimately need.
”You don’t want to let them back in it,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said, ”which is exactly what we did.”
Indians: OF Harold Ramirez was summoned from the taxi squad and started in center. OF Daniel Johnson was optioned to the taxi squad and LHP Kyle Nelson optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
Royals: RHP Jake Newberry was optioned to Triple-A Omaha and LHP Daniel Tillo went on the 60-day injured list.
Indians: OF Jordan Luplow (sore left groin) got the day off after getting hurt running out a grounder over the weekend. ”We just weren’t comfortable putting him out there today quite yet,” Francona said. ”I think the trainers think it’s resolve, but if it’s not in the next day or so, we might have to do something.”
Royals: C Cam Gallagher (concussion protocol) was place on the seven-day IL and C Sebastian Rivero recalled just before the first pitch. … SS Adalberto Mondesi (oblique) could begin a rehab assignment next week, GM Dayton Moore said.
The Indians will try to solve Royals LHP Mike Minor (2-1, 5.26 ERA) on Tuesday night. He is 3-0 with a save and a 0.39 ERA in three starts and nine appearances against them. LHP Sam Hentges makes his first start of the season for Cleveland.
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