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Royals beat Indians 2-0, gain on Tigers
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CLEVELAND — Danny Duffy pitched six shutout innings for his first win in more than a month as the Kansas City Royals moved closer to the top of the AL Central and kept some distance over Cleveland in the wild-card race, beating the Indians 2-0 on Monday night.
Duffy (9-11), who had thrown just one pitch in September before the start, held the Indians to six hits. The left-hander had been sidelined since Sept. 6 with a sore shoulder.
Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 44th save as the Royals, seeking their first postseason appearance since 1985, moved within one game of first-place Detroit. The Tigers lost 2-0 at home to the White Sox.
Carlos Carrasco (8-6) couldn’t keep the momentum going for the Indians, who earlier completed a 4-3 win in 10 innings in a game suspended on Aug. 31 in Kansas City.
Duffy survived a shaky first inning, when he threw 24 pitches and escaped a bases-loaded jam. He gave up three hits in the first two innings, but just three more over the next four. His previous start against Cleveland was the game that wound being suspended last month.
Duffy’s performance — he was removed after throwing one pitch at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 6 — took a little pressure off the Royals, who entered the day holding one of the two wild-card spots. Kansas City gained one-half game on Seattle and stayed 3½ games clear of Cleveland.
Kansas City took a 2-0 in the fifth on Alcides Escobar’s RBI single that easily could have been ruled an error on Indians shortstop Jose Ramirez.
The Royals jumped on Carrasco for a run in the first on Eric Hosmer’s two-out RBI single.
Cleveland’s first three hitters reached in the first, but the Indians came up empty as Duffy retired cleanup hitter Carlos Santana on a pop up, struck out Yan Gomes looking and got Mike Aviles on a lazy fly to right.
Carrasco gave the Indians another solid outing, allowing two runs and seven hits with nine strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings. The right-hander tossed a two-hitter last week in Houston for his first complete game shutout.
After waiting 23 days, the Indians needed nine minutes to finish off the Royals in the first game and temporarily pulled within 2 1-2 games in a wild, wild-card race entering its last days.
Scott Atchison gave up a two-out RBI single to Nori Aoki in the bottom of the 10th — Kansas City was the home team on the road — before getting Omar Infante to pop out for his second save with the tying run at second.
Following the game, Royals manager Ned Yost cut into some of the tension surrounding the regular season’s final week by poking fun at the strange, delayed ending.
“These games are a lot less stressful,” he said. “We ought to have more one- and two-inning games.”
Despite injuries, shoddy defense, an inconsistent offense and skeptical fan base, the Indians came into the week with a chance to be in the playoffs for a second straight year.
With one week left in September, October is still possible.
“It’s about as exciting as it can get,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “I got up this morning and I was nervous and I’d rather be nervous than packing.”