KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Wednesday afternoon marked one of Trevor Bauer's strangest outings as an Indians starter, and it had nothing to do with the right-hander's eccentricities.
Strikeouts eluded him as he struck out only one. He gave up three sacrifice flies as the Royals equaled a franchise record with four in a 4-1 victory over the Tribe at Kauffman Stadium.
In the third inning, Bauer cut off Mike Aviles' throw home from shortstop on a ball Aviles lost in the sun, Bauer's wild relay going high as the Royals scored their second run.
Bauer capped it off with a curt exchange with a Kansas City radio reporter trying to find out what went wrong in Bauer's 51/3 innings.
"What bothers you most about this loss?" the man asked Bauer.
"That we lost," Bauer responded.
"The story behind it from your perspective," the reporter suggested.
"The team lost."
"Can you elaborate?"
"We lost 4-1. Next question."
Fans may have been just as nonplussed by the Indians' effort. But the Indians loaded the bases with none out in the eighth against Royals right-hander Wade Davis. Indians manager Terry Francona said that was no small feat, considering the reliever has now given up just 13 hits (including singles by Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley sandwiched around a Lonnie Chisenhall walk) and struck out 48 in 29 1/3 innings.
But the heart of the order failed the Tribe. Jason Kipnis struck out looking, Carlos Santana swinging and David Murphy, the Indians' leading hitter with runners in scoring position, grounded out to second.
The Royals swept the two-game series -- their first against the Indians at home since April 4-5, 2003 -- and dropped the Tribe back to .500 (33-33). The Indians, winners of nine of their last 12, headed to Boston for a four-game series that opens today.
The most unusual moment of the day came in the third inning. With one out, one run home and Alcides Escobar on third base, Omar Infante hit a high pop to Aviles at short. He caught it as he landed on his rear end, but Escobar still tagged up.
"It was one of those balls that as soon as it went up I was like, 'I got it. I got it,' " said Aviles, who was wearing sunglasses. "Then it's in the sun. I did my best job of trying to secure the ball. I had to go down; if I stayed standing up that ball was going to drop. Hopefully the sun could move a little. If you had more time you could turn the other way.
"While I'm on the ground, I thought it was a heads-up play on their part to take off. At the last second I was sitting there saying, 'I put the glove where I thought the ball would be because I didn't really see it until I felt it go in my glove.' I threw it in the direction of home plate. Bauer cut it off, he was in direct line to the plate. When he turned around I don't know if he knew how far he was from home."
Asked if he might have gotten Escobar if Bauer didn't intervene, Aviles said: "I think it gets to the plate. I don't know if it gets him out. I threw it from my butt and I didn't have anything behind it. I figured if I throw it in the direction of home, maybe (Escobar) stops."
Bauer wasn't sure, either.
"I never should have been in that position, anyway," Bauer said of the cutoff. "That's my fault on that. I should have just put (him) away."
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