Cleveland Indians earn 3-2 victory over Kansas City Royals in series finale at Progressive Field
CLEVELAND -- There was no championship hangover for the Cleveland Indians when they took on the Kansas City Royals in the finale of their four-game at Progressive Field Sunday afternoon.
Less than 24 hours after clinching the American League Central Division Championship for the second straight year when the Minnesota Twins lost to the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday night, the Indians wanted to celebrate in style, and to do that, they had to win, and win they did.
Behind a strong outing from starting pitcher Corey Kluber and timely hitting in the middle of the game, the Indians (93-57) defeated the Royals (73-76), 3-2, in front of the 12th sellout crowd of the season at Progressive Field.
The 12th regular-season sellout marked the most for the Indians since the 2001 season.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor appeared to put the Indians in front of the Royals, 1-0, with a lead-off solo home run to the porch in left field in the bottom of the first inning, but that proved not to be the case.
After Lindor rounded the bases and received congratulations from his teammates in the dugout, a crew chief review overturned the call and took the run off the board. Subsequently, Lindor grounded out to Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy for the first out of the frame, and the Indians went in order in their first trip to the plate.
Although the Indians did not take the lead on a home run in the first inning, a round-tripper in the fourth gave them the advantage and they never looked back.
Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion smashed a two-run home run into the seats over the 19-foot wall in left field and gave the Indians a 2-0 lead over the Royals in the bottom of the fourth inning of the 19th and final meeting between the Central Division foes.
On a 2-1 pitch from Duffy, Encarnacion dropped the barrel of the bat on the ball and drove the offering an estimated 415 feet for his team-leading 36th home run of the season. Encarnacion has the most home runs (36) and runs batted in (94) on the team this season, his first in Cleveland after eight with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Encarnacion drove in outfielder Austin Jackson, who led off the inning by reaching on a throwing error charged to Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield.
After Kluber worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh inning, the Indians added an insurance run in the bottom of the frame when infielder Giovanny Urshela drove in center fielder Greg Allen with an RBI fielder’s choice to shortstop.
Allen was hit by a 3-1 pitch from Peter Moylan with one out in the seventh inning.
Over seven innings of work, Kluber struck out nine batters and scattered three Royals hits. Kluber found the strike zone with 76 of his 99 pitches (76.7 percent) before turning the game over to the bullpen.
Kluber surpassed the 250-strikeout plateau for the second time in his career and just the 11th time in team history during Sunday’s game. The fifth Indians pitcher to accomplish the feat, Kluber also registered 250 strikeouts in the 2014 season.
Additionally, Kluber extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 22 straight, the longest on the team this season, and earned his team-leading 17th win in the process.