Royals Squeak By As Alex Gordon Shines

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Joakim Soria struck Carlos Santana out with the bases loaded to secure tonight’s win over the Indians.  He worked another shaky inning in which the Royals allowed a base runner in almost every way possible.

Austin Kearns reached on an error.  Michael Brantley singled.  Asdrubal Cabrera was hit by a pitch and Shin Soo-Choo walked.

The Royals snuck away with the win following another solid start by Bruce Chen.

Shaky defense, iffy relief pitching, silent bats after the fifth inning – none of it is as interesting as the night by Alex Gordon.

Gordon singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games.  Then he stole second.  And third.

In the fifth inning, following a Melky Cabrera double, Gordon worked the count to 2-0.  He stayed on an outside pitch from Jeanmar Gomez, driving it into the left field gap to bring the run in.  On the TV broadcast, Frank White said it was the type of ball Gordon would have gotten on top of, trying to pull, in the past and probably grounded out.  Instead, as he’s done a few times already this year, he went with the pitch and drove the ball.

Gordon’s among the major league leaders in doubles, runs scored, hits, RBI and total bases.  On Tuesday night, he went 2-4, stole two bases, doubled in a run and scored.  In a win, that alone could earn him a player of the game nod.

But he did much more than that.

After Bruce Chen finally gave up two runs on a Lou Marson double (he’d surrendered just one unearned run after his first start on April 3), Brantley slapped a single to left.  Marson rounded third and headed home.  Gordon came up with the ball and threw a perfect one-hop bullet to Brayan Pena at up the line from home plate.  He caught the ball just before Marson got to him and held on in the collision to end the inning.

Later, after a bad Wilson Betemit throw and a bad Kila Ka’aihue scoop let Austin Kearns reach base in the ninth, Joakim Soria struck out Marson bringing up pinch-hitter Grady Sizemore.  Representing the tying run, Sizemore hit a tailing line drive to left field.  Gordon dove, catching the ball before it fell to the ground.  It’s one of a handful of great plays he’s made in left field already this season.  Considering that Brantley singled afterward and Soria hit AsdrubAl Cabrera and walked Choo, the play saved a run and contributed the second out of the inning.

Alcides Escobar added two hits and an RBI while Wilson Betemit walked twice and singled.  Billy Butler went 1-3 with a walk as well.  Oh, and all three stole a base as well (although Billy’s was the back half of a double steal).

The win puts the Royals within a game of Cleveland and get the opportunity to tie them for first place tomorrow night.  Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.21) looks to build upon his one hit effort against the Mariners.  Justin Masterson (3-0, 1.33) takes the hill for Cleveland.

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