Indians looking for spark after third loss in a row
CLEVELAND — Francisco Lindor believes the Cleveland Indians need a spark. Lindor homered in the ninth inning of Cleveland’s 5-1 loss Monday to the Kansas City Royals, who extended their winning streak to a season-high six games.
The Indians have lost three straight but still lead the AL Central by 14 games. Their magic number to clinch the division was trimmed to 12 after Minnesota’s loss to Houston.
“Our energy is down,” Lindor said. “I don’t why. Personally, my energy is down. We’re at that point in the season where guys are dragging their feet a little. We have to go back to playing the Tribe Way and not taking any pitch for granted. We’ll be fine.”
Jakob Junis allowed two hits in seven shutout innings and Ryan O’Hearn homered twice for Kansas City, which has also won eight of nine.
“It’s no fluke,” O’Hearn said. “Guys are going out, trying to win every day. Everyone is playing really well.”
Junis (8-12) gave up a two-out single to Lindor in the third and a leadoff single to Yonder Alonso in the fifth. The right-hander hit a batter, walked none, struck out six and retired his last nine hitters.
Junis was 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA in his first two starts against the Indians this season.
“Being in the division, these teams see my slider a lot,” he said. “Using my heater more was definitely the difference.”
Brian Flynn pitched a scoreless eighth and Wily Peralta began the ninth with a 5-0 lead. Lindor homered with one out, Michael Brantley singled and Peralta walked Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion on eight pitches.
Left-hander Tim Hill relieved, and pinch-hitter Yandy Diaz hit a hard grounder that second baseman Whit Merrifield turned into a game-ending double play. Hill recorded his second save.
“That was a great play by Whit, a great play,” manager Ned Yost said. “That’s why you bring Timmy in, to get a ground ball.”
Lindor has 30 homers this season. He joins Jose Ramirez, who has 37 home runs, as the first pair of switch-hitting teammates in major league history to each have 30 or more homers in a season.
O’Hearn had the first multihomer game of his career. He led off the fourth with a home run and hit a two-run drive in the sixth. Jorge Bonifacio and Hunter Dozier hit solo homers.
Adam Plutko (4-5) gave up three homers and allowed four runs in six innings. The right-hander had a career-high eight strikeouts.
Kansas City took two of three from Cleveland at Kaufmann Stadium last month and Junis made certain that trend continued. He retired the first eight batters before hitting Greg Allen with a pitch in the third. Lindor sent Allen to third with a single, but the inning ended with an out on the bases.
Lindor broke for second and was caught in a rundown when catcher Cam Gallagher threw to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. The rundown continued until Allen finally broke for home, and Merrifield threw to Gallagher, who applied the tag.