CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians took another step toward a postseason berth and the American League Central Division championship with a 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field Wednesday night
With the win over the Royals (77-75), the two-time reigning American League champions and defending World Series titlist, the Indians (88-63) took their magic number to clinch the A.L. Central Division down to five with 11 games to play in the regular season.
In order to secure the win over the Royals, the Indians had to do so in come-from-behind fashion, as Kansas City jumped out to a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs against Cleveland starter Corey Kluber in the top of the third inning.
After the first two batters failed to reach base, second baseman Whit Merrifield and first baseman Eric Hosmer smacked back-to-back singles to right field. Then, designated hitter Kendrys Morales drove in Merrifield and moved Hosmer over to third base with a single to left field. Catcher Salvador Perez followed with an RBI single to center field.
The Indians broke through with the game-tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the fifth inning after knocking on the door in both the third and fourth frames.
Designated hitter Carlos Santana led off the inning with a double to deep right field, and second baseman Jason Kipnis followed with an RBI double to the gap in deep right-center. After shortstop Francisco Lindor flied out to right field and first baseman Mike Napoli popped out to Hosmer, third baseman Jose Ramirez delivered with his 41st double of the season, an RBI hit to center field.
The Indians extended their lead when Santana singled to center field and drove in center fielder Tyler Naquin, who singled to center and moved into scoring position on catcher Roberto Perez’s sacrifice bunt to the pitcher in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Royals cut the Indians’ lead to one run in the top of the ninth inning when Perez blasted a lead-off solo home run. Left fielder Alex Gordon followed Perez’s solo shot with a walk, but the Indians caught pinch runner Terrance Gore trying to steal and got the final two hitters out on a ground ball and line drive, respectively.
On the way to his 18th win of the season, Kluber allowed six hits, but only two earned runs with nine strikeouts against two walks over 6.1 innings of work. The bullpen combination of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Allen combined to allow just one hit and one walk over 2.2 innings of relief.