|Gordon, Shields lead Royals past Indians 6-2|
|Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:22 AM|
CLEVELAND — The Kansas City Royals believe they are in the American League playoff chase to stay. They might start convincing others, too.
The Royals gained ground in the wild card race on Wednesday with a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. Kansas City took two of three in the series between clubs that are in contention for the second wild card spot in the AL.
The Royals, who entered Wednesday trailing Tampa Bay by three games, moved a game closer to the Indians. Cleveland came in 1½ games behind the Rays.
“To come in here and win a series against a tough Cleveland team was huge for us,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Especially considering where we are at this point of the season. Losses hurt now. You’ve got to try to really keep them at a minimum if you can.”
Alex Gordon homered on the game’s first pitch, and James Shields dominated after a shaky first inning for the Royals, who have won 13 of 18.
“These guys have developed a lot of experience this year,” Shields said. “We’ve gone through so many ups and downs this year that we’ve been through every situation you can think of almost. These guys know what it takes. They know how to win.”
The Royals had a home run, a triple and a single within the game’s first seven pitches to take a 2-0 lead. Kansas City added another run in the first inning.
Shields (11-9) gave up two runs, two hits, and hit a batter in the bottom half before he took control.
Michael Brantley had a two-run single in the first, but Shields didn’t allow another hit until Jason Kipnis’ leadoff single in the ninth. He retired 16 of 17 going into the ninth, but was removed after allowing singles to Kipnis and Carlos Santana.
Shields allowed four hits, struck out seven and walked one. Greg Holland retired the last three hitters for his 42nd save.
Gordon jumped on a 90 mph fastball from Scott Kazmir (8-8) and lined it into the seats in right field for his 13th career leadoff homer.
“It’s not my first rodeo, so I’ve done it before,” Gordon said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to mix it up, especially with Kazmir with his electric stuff.”
“He said he was going to do it,” Yost said. “He picks his spots.”
Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain added RBI singles.
The Indians won the first game of the series and finished 5-4 on their homestand, but failed to gain ground in the playoff chase for the second straight day. Cleveland will begin a seven-game trip in Chicago on Thursday. The Indians and Royals meet again in Kansas City next week for a three-game series.
“They’re a good team,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “They’re right where we are. They’re a real good team.”
Kansas City went 26-18 in a stretch of 44 games in 44 days.
Emilio Bonifacio followed Gordon’s homer with a triple, and Hosmer singled to center to make it 2-0. Kazmir retired the next two hitters, but Justin Maxwell singled, and Cain lined a single to center for the third run.
Shields also struggled in the first. Michael Bourn walked and Mike Aviles was hit by a pitch. The runners moved up on a groundout, and Brantley singled to center with two outs.
Shields got the start following his shortest outing of the season, a start against Detroit on Friday in which he matched career worsts by allowing 10 runs and 14 hits in 3 2-3 innings in a 16-2 loss.
He bounced back Wednesday and improved to 2-5 in 13 career starts against Cleveland. After the first, Shields pitched like the ace the Royals envisioned he would be when they acquired him from the Rays for outfielder Wil Myers, one of baseball’s top prospects. The right-hander leads the AL with 207 2-3 innings pitched.
“James comes off his arguably worst start of the year and has arguably his best start of the year,” Yost said. “He just put us on his back today and carried us.”
Shields’ biggest problem came with his own defense when he made two errors in the third. He dropped a throw from Hosmer at first base, allowing Kipnis to reach safely. He then threw wildly to first trying to pick off Kipnis, but retired Santana to end the inning.
Kazmir allowed four runs and nine hits in four innings. He struck out a season-high 12 over six scoreless innings in an 8-1 victory over the New York Mets in his last outing.
NOTES: The Royals will skip LHP Danny Duffy’s next start, which was scheduled to be Friday in Detroit. LHP Bruce Chen will pitch that game instead. Right-handers Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie will pitch Saturday and Sunday, respectively. … Indians 1B Nick Swisher wasn’t in the lineup. He is batting .167 (8 for 48) with 15 strikeouts against Shields, including three hits in his last 25 at-bats. … SS Asdrubal Cabrera, in a 3-for-27 slump, was also out of the lineup. He pinch-hit in the ninth and struck out. … Kansas City’s off day on Thursday is its first since Aug. 19. … Indians RHP Corey Kluber (8-5) faces LHP John Danks (4-12) in the series opener against the White Sox.
YANKEES 5, ORIOLES 4
BALTIMORE — Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking homer leading off the ninth inning, and New York also got solo shots from Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson in a 5-4 victory over Baltimore on Wednesday night.
The Yankees moved past Baltimore and Cleveland in the AL wild-card hunt. New York has hit eight home runs in winning two of three in the four-game series that concludes Thursday night.
The Yankees trailed 3-1 before Granderson homered in the fifth — New York’s first hit — and Rodriguez tied it in the sixth with his 653rd career home run.
In the ninth, after Cano connected off Tommy Hunter (4-4), Granderson tripled with one out and scored on an infield hit by Lyle Overbay.
David Robertson (5-1) worked the eighth and Mariano Rivera gave up a run-scoring single to Brian Roberts before securing his 43rd save, tied for the major league lead with Baltimore’s Jim Johnson.
Orioles slugger Chris Davis drove in two runs with a double, making him the first player in team history to have 40 doubles and 40 homers in a season. Danny Valencia tied a career high with four hits, and Roberts had three singles.
Baltimore outhit New York 13-6.
Before the game, the Yankees announced that shortstop Derek Jeter would miss the rest of the season with an injured left ankle. The Yankees captain played in only 17 games this season and made four trips to the disabled list.
ANGELS 5, BLUE JAYS 4
TORONTO — Kole Calhoun hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and C.J. Wilson won his eighth straight decision for Los Angeles.
Mark Trumbo hit a two-run home run, his career-high 33rd, and Josh Hamilton had three hits as the Angels won for the ninth time in 12 meetings with the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout drew a one-out walk off Steve Delabar (5-3) in the eighth and went to third on Hamilton’s double. Trumbo was intentionally walked to load the bases for Calhoun, who hit a sacrifice fly to left.
Calhoun went 1 for 2 with two sacrifice flies, helping the Angels win for the fifth time in seven games.
Wilson (16-6) allowed four runs, three earned, in seven innings to match his career-high in victories, first set with Texas in 2011. The left-hander, who has not lost since July 5 against Boston, walked four and struck out six. He’s 12-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 17 starts since June 14.
Ernesto Frieri worked the ninth for his 32nd save.
Moises Sierra went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a triple for the Blue Jays.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Clint Barmes homered and drew a bases-loaded walk as Pittsburgh completed a three-game sweep in an interleague matchup of wild-card leaders.
Justin Morneau, acquired from Minnesota less than two weeks ago, snapped an 0-for-14 slump with four hits while scoring twice for the Pirates.
Texas has lost nine of its last 12, a stretch in which the Rangers have lost four consecutive series. They have gone from a three-game lead in the AL West to entering Wednesday 2½ games behind Oakland.
A.J. Burnett (8-10) struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings, though he faded late after retiring the first 13 batters he faced.