The Indians entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 8-4 after their bullpen surrendered five runs in the top of the eighth. But Francisco Lindor’s 23rd home run set the stage for Reyes’ heroics after Carlos Santana walked and Yasiel Puig singled with two out.
Reyes’ 423-foot smash to center off Royals reliever Ian Kennedy (1-2, 3.75) ignited the Tribe dugout and sent the crowd into a frenzy before O’Hearn’s reply in the 10th off Nick Goody (3-1, 2.16) put the Royals back in front. Like Reyes’ shot, it was O’Hearn’s second home run of the game.
Manager Terry Francona said it was good to see Reyes stay hot at the plate and the reaction from his teammates in the Cleveland dugout.
“He hit the heck out of that ball,” Francona said. “Unfortunately, so did they.”
The Indians were unable mount another comeback and complete a weekend sweep of the Royals as Jorge Lopez pitched retired the Indians in order in the 10th for his first career save.
“That’s a hard game to win and we had a chance,” Francona said. “Kind of uncharacteristically our bullpen kind of kept giving up runs, but that’s a tough game to come back from.”
Cleveland (76-55) fell to 7-2 at home when tied after eight innings and are just a half-game ahead of Tampa Bay and one game up on Oakland for the No. 1 wild card spot in the American League. The Indians fell 3.5 games behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central Division after the Twins held off Detroit on Sunday.
In the eighth, Jorge Soler followed a Lindor error with a two-run homer to left off reliever Nick Wittgren to put Kansas City in front, 5-3.
Phil Maton replaced Wittgren and walked three Royals hitters. He threw a wild pitch that allowed Alex Gordon to score and exited with the bases loaded. Then Hunter Wood surrendered a two-run double to Royals rookie infielder Nicky Lopez for an 8-3 Kansas City advantage.
Cleveland starter Shane Bieber labored through the first 2 2/3 innings, but pulled his act together long enough to give the Indians seven quality innings. After allowing a home run to O’Hearn in the third, Bieber went on to retire the final 13 Royals batters he faced, including six of the last eight on strikeouts.
Bieber said he felt more like himself in his final four innings Sunday.
“I got a little bit more aggressive, maybe a little bit of that had to do with some frustration but obviously the first three innings are not the start that you want,” Bieber said. "I haven’t really felt like that in my last three outings so it definitely felt good to end on a positive note. But a loss is never positive so.”
Reyes had clubbed his 31st home run of the season and fourth since joining the Indians off Jacob Barnes in the bottom of the eighth to cut the Royals lead to four. He homered in back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 12-13 against Boston and collected an extra-base hit in his third straight game for the first time this season. Reyes said rounding the bases in the ninth was a thrill.
“It was crazy," Reyes said."Honestly, it was one of the best moments in my life, not my career. It was great. Just turning at second base and look to the dugout how everybody was fired up. It was a crazy moment.”
Soler snapped an 0-for-16 skid with his 36th home run, tying him with Steve Balboni (1985) for second on the Royals’ single-season home run list behind leader Mike Moustakas (38 in 2017). The blast wrestled momentum away from the Indians, who had rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Rookie infielder Yu Chang, recalled before the game from Triple-A Columbus when Jose Ramirez went on the injured list with a broken bone in his wrist, smashed a leadoff triple high off the wall in deep center and scored on an RBI single by Kevin Plawecki that knotted the score at 3-3.
Chang, who made his major league debut on June 28 in Baltimore, collected his first big league hit in the fourth off Royals starter Erik Skoglund and scored his first big league run in the third when Plawecki homered to the bleachers in left.
Francona told Chang to be himself when the rookie arrived at the ballpark Sunday morning.
“Sometimes guys come up and they try to be something they’re not, and then they’re not what they are,” Francona said. “That’s the message I tried to give him.”
O’Hearn’s two-out solo homer in the third gave the Royals a three-run advantage. It was O’Hearn’s eighth homer and first since Aug. 6. That is the only home run Bieber allowed against Kansas City in 18 innings across three starts this season.
Kansas City made Bieber work early, scoring a pair in the second on back-to-back doubles by Nick Dini and Humberto Arteaga. Dini came home on an infield single by Nicky Lopez, and Arteaga scored when Whit Merrifield bounced into a fielder’s choice and Plawecki made a throwing error while Arteaga was caught in a rundown between third and home.
Plawecki’s low throw bounced away from Chang, but the rookie was able to throw to Lindor covering third to tag Lopez who was attempting to advance.
The Indians are off Monday before opening a six-game road trip to Detroit and Tampa Bay against the Tigers on Tuesday. Right-hander Adam Plutko (5-3, 4.54) will start for Cleveland, while the Tigers send righty Spencer Turnbull (3-12, 4.05) to the mound. The game is slated for a 7:10 p.m. first pitch and will air on SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM.
Plutko is 1-0 in two starts against the Tigers in 2019. In his last six starts, the right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA, posting six innings or more in four of those outings. Turnbull is 0-4 with a 6.40 ERA in four starts against the Indians this season.