By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com
Jason Kipnis’ home run in the sixth inning powered the Indians past the Royals, as the Tribe won Monday night at Progressive Field, 4-3.
- Indians Zach McAllister won his third game of the season. He pitched six innings, allowing six hits on three runs (two earned), while walking one and striking out two.
- Tribe closer John Axford recorded his seventh save of the season and is now tied for the second most in the Majors, while ranking first in the American League.
- Royals’ Alex Gordon was 2-for-4 with a double.
- The Tribe’s two, three and four hitters each had two hits, and had four extra base hits.
- Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall hit cleanup Monday, marking it the third time he has done so in his career. He went 2-for-4 with a double Monday night. The Tribe’s normal four hitter, Carlos Santana, had the night off.
- Monday’s win was the Indians second straight. They are now 9-10 on the season and 5-5 at Progressive Field.
Twitter Question of the Night #KNRTribe
MVP of the Game – The Indians’ Jason Kipnis came up big when it mattered, hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, putting the Tribe up 4-3. On top of Kipnis’ third home run of the season, he also had a double in the fourth. Kipnis entering Monday was 3-for-14 (.214) with no extra base hits or RBI’s.
McAllister Outing – For the most part Zach McAllister was pretty solid through his six innings pitched. However the one inning where he wasn’t so great, was in the fifth inning when he allowed three runs (two earned) and had a throwing error. The issue with this Indians' staff has been their inability to have shut down innings once they put runs on the board. Of the 42 innings that the Tribe have scored in, the opposition has scored in their next at-bat, 20 times.
McAllister didn't walk many and he didn’t strike out many, but did a good job of working himself out of jams. He started the first inning off, surrendering a triple to Omar Infante, but worked his way through the jam. He once again got in to some trouble when he gave up a double to Alex Gordon but was able to get the next batter to ground out. McAllister has won three games in his four starts this season.
“I think I’ve been able to get the ball down pretty well,” McAllister said. “They were aggressive team, and anytime you threw a strike they were trying to put the ball in play. For me I was trying to execute good pitches and mix a little bit.”
Defense, Defense, Defense – One of the more consistent problems so far this season with the Indians has been their defense. On Monday night the Tribe had three errors, one coming from McAllister and the other two coming from third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. Errors are huge when any they're committed, but when a team regularly hands them out like hot cakes it hurts even more.
Extra outs can kill a team, and Monday was a prime example of that. Of the three errors in Monday’s game, the Royals cashed in on two runs. The Indians through 19 games this season are second in the league with 19 errors, and rank 27th in total team defense.
Day Off – Tribe manager Terry Francona provided Carlos Santana with a much-needed day off on Monday.
“There’s just a few reason where I thought it’s be good for him,” Francona said. “(It’s) just because he’s starting to chase some balls out of the zone. You can tell he’s getting a little anxious. He’s always had that volatile swing, but he stays in the zone so well. And (Sunday), he really started chasing.
“So, I thought maybe I’d give him a night to kind of take it easy and, again, get some stuff done on the field without the game hanging over your head. I think that’d be good for him.”
Santana in 18 games has hit .145 with one home run, two doubles three RBI and 17 walks. He went 0-for-3 Sunday with three strikeouts and is two for his last 39 at the plate.
A Stat from Left Field – Kansas City is 9-0 when scoring at leas four runs in a game. They are now 0-9 after Monday’s game when held to three runs or less.
Making Moves – Indians’ designated hitter Jason Giambi was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. To make room, the Indians optioned RHP Blake Wood to Triple-A Columbus. Wood was 0-1 with a 7.11 ERA in 6 1/3 innings, where he walked and struck out seven batters. Giambi was out since March 7. with a fractured rib that he suffered in spring training. He appeared in three games with Double-A Akron in a rehab assignment where he went 0-for-8 with two walks and four strikeouts.
Getting Squirrely – The Indians had a visitor in the second inning, when a squirrel was running lose on the field. He stopped play for a few minutes but mostly reeked havoc with the Indians’ grounds crew. It took two tries to finally get the squirrel to leave the ballpark, but not before he had an encounter with Nick Swisher at first base.
“I just kind of thought I’d put my glove down and give him a nice little home to come into,” Swisher said.
Last year was the Rally Chicken, which coincidently occurred during the Indians hot streak into the postseason. Could this year be the Rally Squirrel that sparks a run? Whatever it is, the Indians certainly won’t ignore it.
Rounding Third – It was promising to see the top of the order finally produce, considering they’ve been in sub zero temperatures for quite sometime. Big hits by Kipnis and once again Michael Brantley are all the Indians needed offensively, however it was the bullpen that shut it down.
The Indians’ bullpen turned in three scoreless innings allowing no hits and walking no one while, Axford notched his seventh save of the season. The best part about Axford’s appearance was that it was a 1-2-3 inning, compared to Sunday’s when he loaded the bases, but finished the game with a ground out. Last but not least the starting pitching was there and turned in a quality start. The Indians have won two straight and maybe Monday was an indicator that the top of the lineup is going to finally waking up from its deep sleep.
Worth Quoting – “I missed him. I hope he comes back tomorrow so I can say hi.” – Indians John Axford on the squirrel
Up Next – The Indians continue their four game home series with the Kansas City on Tuesday. On the mound for the Tribe, RHP Danny Salazar (0-2, 7.71) he’ll go against Royals’ RHP James Shields (1-2, 2.00). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.