10 August 2005

Cleveland 13, Kansas City 7

CLE 13
WP- Sauerbeck (1-0)
LP- MacDougal (2-4)
HR- J Peralta (16), M Sweeney (18), A Berroa (8)

In one of the more stunning collapses I have ever seen in a baseball game, the Kansas City Royals dropped a game last night to the Cleveland Indians 13-7. There have been huge comebacks before- the one Cleveland put on Seattle in 2001, down 11 in the 6th comes to mind. But for sheer absurdity, this is up there with any I've ever seen.

Kansas City jumped out to an early and commanding lead on Cliff Lee, getting five runs over the first three innings. Mike Sweeney hit a 3-R HR in the 2nd, and it appeared the Royals had a running start at least. Of course, no lead is safe with either
a) the Kansas City bullpen
b) the game being played at Kauffman Stadium, a notorious HR friendly park.

So it was that much more impressive when Mike Wood and Andy Sisco held the very good Indian lineup to one run over the first seven innings. With 6 runs themselves, they needed just six outs to finish off Cleveland.

LHP Jeremy Affeldt started the 8th inning, with Coco Crisp, Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner due up. Crisp doubled to lead off the inning, and after a Peralta ground out that advanced the runner, Travis Hafner walked and was erased on Victor Martinez' RBI fielder's choice. 6-2 Kansas City. Affeldt survived the remainder of the 8th unscathed.

In the bottom of the 8th, Kansas City got the run back on a huge HR off the bat of Angel Berroa. The Royals then lead 7-2, and entered the 9th inning needing three outs with a five run lead.

Royals closer Mike MacDougal relieved Ambiorix Burgos to start the innings, and quickly Casey Blake and Grady Sizemore hit back-to-back deep 2B to bring the score within 7-3. The next batter, Coco Crisp, singled home Sizemore, and after Jhonny Peralta was struck out looking, there was a runner on first, one out, and the score at 7-4.

The next two batters, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez- the bulk of the Indians' lineup- hit the ball hard- Hafner for a 2B and Martinez for an RBI 1B. Now there were runners on 1st and 3rd with only one out, and all of a sudden, the score was 7-5, and MacDougal was fooling no one. Ramon Vazquez ran for Victor Martinez, and Ronnie Belliard stepped to the plate.

Belliard took a ball wide to start the at bat, and then promptly got well under a high fastball from MacDougal, who can get a pitch up around 95. Shortstop Angel Berroa settled under the ball, and as it floated to his glove, the wind shifted, but Berroa did not. The ball completely missed his glove, and though he was able to rebound in time to get the force of Vazquez at 2B, Hafner was able to sneak in from third, bringing the score to 7-6.

Now, that said, the Royals, at this point, still actually stood in a pretty good position. There was only a batter at first, there were 2 outs, they still had the lead, and the weaker part of the Indians lineup- Jeff Liefer, Aaron Boone, and Casey Blake- were coming up next.

Liefer fell behind quickly on two excellent pitches from MacDougal, and after fouling a third off and taking a ball, MacDougal got a pitch up and away. Liefer tried to flick at it, but he got under it, and it floated harmlessly down the LF line, staying fair but fading fast and right towards the measured Chip Ambres. Ambres had no problem getting to the ball, was ready to end the game easily, and had his eye on the ball right until about 3 feet from the glove. Then, inexplicably, his eyes shot towards the fence, and he closed his glove a millisecond too early. The ball deflected off the heel, and Liefer was safe. Belliard, running with 2 outs, was able to score from first, and Liefer stood on 2nd. Tie game. The game went on.

Facing extra innings now in a best case scenario, MacDougal had Aaron Boone to contend with. On the first pitch though, Boone crushed a 2B deep to LF, scoring Liefer, and giving the Indians the lead they would not give back in the 9th.

To that point a 6 run inning, the Indians would tack on 5 more- including one on an error by RF Emil Brown and 3 on a HR by Jhonny Peralta. In the bottom of the 9th, Bobby Howry took over for Scott Sauerbeck and worked a perfect inning, getting the win on a foul out to Terrence Long.

Absolutely unbelievable.

Speaking of unbelievable, go and do yourself a favor- check out the catch David Wright made last night in San Diego. You can see it here, on the Mets site. Absolutely the play of the year so far. David Wright is slowly creeping his way up to ladder to Vladimir Guerrero/ Miguel Cabrera/ Bobby Abreu as my favorite non-Red Sox player(s).

Really, really fantastic catch.

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