CLEVELAND — The Indians have talked a good game all season long, but for one of the few times this year, they aren’t walking the walk.
With an opportunity to bounce back from a disappointing sweep in Chicago, injury-depleted Cleveland instead dropped a series to a scuffling Royals team that beat them 6-3 at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon.
It was the fifth loss in six games for the Indians, who fell out of first place Tuesday night and trail the White Sox by 1½ games with an off-day today.
“It was not a good series,” said manager Manny Acta, whose team has dropped consecutive series for just the second time this season. “Things continue to be rough for us. The pitching sets the tone, and right now, we’re not setting the tone very well.
“The day off comes at a perfect time. I think we all need to go home, step back and come back over here Friday and play better baseball.”
The Indians’ rotation has gone 1-5 with an 11.89 ERA (37 ER/28 IP) over the past six games. In 10 games prior, it was 5-1 with 2.31 ERA (17 ER/66⅓ IP).
Jeanmar Gomez was the latest starter who failed to answer the call, losing his second straight start after allowing five-plus runs for the second consecutive time.
After tossing two straight scoreless innings to open the game, Gomez allowed five runs over the next three — all with two outs.
“Gomez was just unable to close innings out,” Acta said. “We didn’t score a ton of runs, but we gave him three, and he just couldn’t hold them and put us in a tough spot with our bullpen.”
The Indians scored all of their runs in the second inning, providing Gomez with an early lead that he couldn’t hold.
“For me, I think all my pitches were good,” Gomez said. “I threw a lot of strikes today, but they got a lot of hits, too. That’s OK for me.
“I felt good today. I got two outs quickly. I made quality pitches. They hit it. Credit to them.”
Outside of the second inning, the Indians mustered little against left-hander Bruce Chen, who lasted only five innings.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs after Johnny Damon drew a walk in the third, but unlike Kansas City, the Indians, playing without designated hitter Travis Hafner and catcher Carlos Santana, couldn’t come through in the clutch — Casey Kotchman struck out to end the threat.
The Indians were able to make things interesting at the end, loading the bases against closer Jonathan Broxton with one out in the ninth, but Jose Lopez bounced into a game-ending double play.
Broxton walked two of the three batters he faced before Lopez swung at the first pitch from the big right-hander.
“At the end, we showed some fight,” Acta said. “Jose was just trying to ambush him there on the first pitch and win it or hit an extra-base hit. It was just a poor swing. The ball ate him up and that was the end of the game, basically.”
Lopez admitted he shouldn’t have swung at Broxton’s high fastball.
“I was trying to catch a first-pitch fastball,” Lopez said. “I know he throws a lot of first-pitch fastballs. It was better to take the pitch. I tried to do my job. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
“There’s a long way to go. We have a day off today that everybody can enjoy and then come back for the Minnesota Twins.”
A visit from the last-place Twins could help cure Cleveland’s losing ills. Minnesota entered Tuesday tied with the Cubs for the worst record in baseball (17-32) and owning the American League’s worst road record (9-15), but the Twins did complete a sweep of the A’s on Wednesday.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.