CLEVELAND (AP)Oscar Gonzalez bounced off the padded wall and the rookie outfielder casually flipped the ball into the stands, thinking the inning was over.
When he got back to Cleveland’s dugout, Guardians manager Terry Francona had a question.
”I just asked him `I haven’t been to Triple-A in a while,”’ Francona said. ”’Do they make you get three outs there?”’
Fortunately, the Guardians could laugh off Gonzalez’s gaffe.
Andres Gimenez hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning off Kansas City rookie Collin Snider and Jose Ramirez drove in three more runs, sending Cleveland to a 7-3 win over the injury-riddled Royals on Monday night.
Gimenez’s shot to center field off Snider (3-2) scored pinch-runner Ernie Clement and Gonzalez, who singled in the inning to make up for a bone-headed play in the sixth when he tossed the ball into the stands with two outs.
”There’s a lot of emotions happening in these types of games,” said Gonzalez, who was playing in his fourth major league game. ”I was listening to the crowd and I thought there were two outs so I wanted to do something. I was able to flush it and focus on the next AB and help the team.”
Trailing 3-1 in the sixth, the Royals had a runner at first when Gonzalez made a nice play by tracking Salvador Perez’s slicing drive and making a catch in the right-field corner.
After making the grab, Gonzalez nonchalantly threw the ball to a fan, convinced there were three outs. Upon realizing his mistake, Gonzalez crouched like a catcher and bit the top of his glove.
”Honestly. I was like, `Oh, I screwed (up),”’ Gonzalez said. ”But my mind went to, ‘I hope he hits to me and I can make the inning over.”’
Andrew Benintendi was awarded two bases on Gonzalez’s mental error, but starter Zach Plesac, who pitched six solid innings, buckled down and struck out MJ Melendez to end the threat.
Plesac didn’t feel the need to say anything to Gonzalez afterward.
”Nothing came out of it so it was one of those, just kind of smile it off,” he said. ”I’m not looking at him like, `Come on dude, you need to do better.’ He learned from it. He understood. He knew what he did. We got out of it with no runs, unscathed.”
Ramirez hit his 13th homer – a two-run shot in the fifth – and raised his major league-leading total to 51 RBIs. He reached 50 RBIs in 44 games, the second fastest in team history behind Manny Ramirez, who did in 38 games in 1999.
”He’s the best player in the game, hands down,” Plesac said. ”I don’t care who wants to challenge him. He hits from both sides of the plate. He doesn’t strike out. He does his job and he puts up runs, so it’s phenomenal.”
Nick Sandlin (4-2) got the win in relief.
Emmanuel Rivera homered for the Royals, who rallied in the eighth but couldn’t stop from falling to 16-31 – the AL’s worst record. Before the game, Kansas City made roster moves involving eight players.
Down 3-1, Kansas City tied it in the eighth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Whit Merrifield and Benintendi that tied it 3-3.
But in Cleveland’s half, Josh Naylor drew a one-out walk off Snider, and Gonzalez singled to right before Gimenez drove a 3-2 sinker from Snider over the wall in straightaway center for his fifth homer.
The Guardians tacked on a fourth run on a throwing error by Royals rookie shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.
”We got into a spot where we had to fight back and the guys did a great job with that late in the game against a good bullpen and gave us a chance,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. ”Unfortunately a one-out walk put us in a bit of a bind and then a pitch that wasn’t where we wanted it to be ended up being the home run.”
Gonzalez’s choice for walk-up music raised some eyebrows.
It the theme song from ”SpongeBob SquarePants.”
”Because kids love that song and this is a kid’s game after all,” he said. ”I’ve had it since Triple-A.”
Royals: Veteran RHP Zack Greinke was placed on the 15-day IL with a strained right forearm, one of several roster roster moves before the series opener. The 38-year-old Greinke complained of tightness in his arm following Sunday’s start in Minnesota. Greinke’s 0-4 with a 5.05 ERA.
Guardians: There’s still no timetable for DH Franmil Reyes (hamstring) to return from the injured list. He met with trainers, strength and conditioning coaches and Francona to map out a long-term plan. … RHP Aaron Civale (strained gluteus) underwent another MRI after throwing a side session in anticipation of a scheduled rehab start at Triple-A Columbus Tuesday. Francona said Civale didn’t feel ready to ”ramp up” to game intensity so the team decided to have him checked further.
Cleveland’s most consistent starter despite a lack of run support, RHP Cal Quantrill (1-3) starts Tuesday against Royals LHP Daniel Lynch (2-3).
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