Guardians' Lead Evaporates Late In 6-4 Loss To Royals

Cleveland Guardians v Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 18: Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Guardians attempts a steal as Bobby Witt Jr. #7 of the Kansas City Royals covers second base during the game at Kauffman Stadium on September 18, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

The Guardians were on their way to their fourth straight-win coming off of a weekend sweep over the Texas Rangers going into a short road trip with a series against the Kansas City Royals. Up 4-2 in the eighth inning while out-hitting their division foe 9-5, the Guardians allowed just one hit in the frame, yet went from up by two runs to down by that margin before the end of the inning.

Up to that point, the Guardians took an early lead and maintained it throughout most of the contest. With Andres Gimenez and Will Brennan aboard on a pair of singles in the second inning, Bo Naylor drove in Gimenez on his 12th double this season to left-center field. Then Myles Straw got Brennan in from third on a sacrifice fly to centerfield for an early 2-0 lead.

The Royals got on the board in the third on back-to-back two out hits as Bobby Witt Jr. singled and scored on MJ Melendez's two-out triple, briefly cutting Cleveland's lead to one. However, in the fourth Gabriel Arias's 10th home run restored Cleveland's two-run lead to 3-1. Both teams tacked on a run in the sixth: Kole Calhoun hit a leadoff double, reached third on Andres Gimenez's single, and scored on Gabriel Arias's sacrifice fly, making the score 4-1, but the Royals cut the lead in half on Nelson Velazquez's 14th home run of the year.

Trevor Stephan issued a leadoff walk to Kyle Isbel, but induced two straight outs, nearing a promising relief appearance. However, he then walked MJ Melendez and hit Nelson Velazquez with a pitch, loading the bases. Trying to escape a bases-loaded jam, Stephan walked Michael Massey to walk in Isbel, allow the Royals to get within one run before giving way to Enyel De Los Santos, but still responsible for the the base runners aboard. Then the next hitter, Drew Waters, delivered a two-run double, scoring Dairon Blanco and Nelson Velazquez, putting the Royals ahead 5-4 and cementing the Guardians' 30th blown save this season. A passed ball to Nick Pratto allowed Michael Massey to score from third and double Kansas City's lead to 6-4, despite the Royals gathering one base hit.

Unable to generate a ninth inning rally, the Guardians fall to 7.5 games behind the Twins in the Central and see their elimination number drop to five, meaning that any combination of five losses and Minnesota Twins' victories would eliminate the Guardians from winning the AL Central. The Guardians (72-79) will look to get back on track tomorrow at 7:40 PM against the Royals (49-102) while trying to gain ground on the division-leading Minnesota Twins as Logan Allen will make his third start against the Royals. In his previous two starts, Allen went 3 2/3 scoreless innings and took a no-decision in a 14-1 win, but took a loss after allowing five runs in seven innings, a 5-3 loss.

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