Greg Holland struck out the top of Cleveland’s order to strand the tying run at second base and Maikel Franco hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to give the Kansas City Royals a 3-2 win over the Indians on Saturday in just the third major league game decided by the debated extra-inning runner rule.
With Greg Allen on second, Holland fanned Csar Hernndez and Jos Ramrez before getting All-Star Francisco Lindor to chase strike three in the dirt for the final out and the most unique save of his career.
The Royals could be heard whooping it up as they poured out of the dugout, with Mike Matheny posting his first win as Kansas City’s manager.
Holland’s performance provided a fitting ending for the Royals, who got an excellent start from Brady Singer in his big league debut. Reliever Scott Barlow struck out two in the ninth to get the win.
The Indians got just one hit after the third inning and finished with four.
Jorge Soler and Salvador Prez hit back-to-back homers in the first for Kansas City.
The Indians left the bases loaded in the ninth, forcing the teams to go to the new rule, which puts a runner at second to start the 10th. Major League Baseball implemented the change for this unique, 60-game regular season to hopefully avoid games from going too long.
Kansas City’s 10th began with pinch-runner Brett Phillips on second and he moved to third on pinch-hitter Erick Mejia’s perfectly placed sacrifice off James Karinchak (0-1). Franco then delivered a fly to deep center, easily scoring Phillips.
Cleveland went with a different strategy in the 10th as manager Terry Francona let leadoff hitter Bradley Zimmer swing away and he got hit with a pitch. But Hernndez couldn’t get down a bunt before Holland got him.
The Indians still looked to be OK with Ramirez and Lindor coming up, but Holland didn’t let them make contact.
Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger came in 9-0 in 13 career starts against the Royals, but two bad pitches and a check-swing in the first prevented him from getting his 10th win.
Shut out by Shane Bieber and three relievers in Friday’s opener, the Royals got the homer by Soler and Prez after Clevinger appeared to get out the inning.
With two outs, Soler checked his swing on a 2-2 pitch, and with the count full he pulled Clevinger’s slider into the left-field stands. Two pitches later, Prez followed with a towering, 434-foot shot into the empty bleachers.
The 23-year-old Singer held the Indians to two runs and three hits with seven strikeouts in five innings. The first-round draft pick in 2018 looked composed and comfortable in his first outing.
The Royals weren’t expecting to bring up Singer this quickly, but with starters Brad Keller and Jakob Junis both sidelined after testing positive for the coronavirus, the club decided it was time to see him.
The Indians wore their red alternate home jerseys for Game 2. On Friday, the team donned its blue road jerseys with Cleveland and not Indians written on the chest for the opener in a show of support for minorities and the team considering changing its name.
Indians: OF Tyler Naquin was placed on the injured list with a hairline fracture in his right big toe. Naquin fouled a ball off his foot last week and needs more time to recover. The club recalled RHP Zach Plesac.
Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco makes his first since May 30 last season, shortly before he was diagnosed with leukemia. Carrasco returned to pitch in relief late in the season, but he’s now back in Cleveland’s rotation. Matheny hasn’t announced his starter for Sunday’s series finale. Left-hander Mike Montgomery had been tentatively scheduled.
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