KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Terry Francona likened the atmosphere at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday to a playoff game in October. The crowd was into it. Every pitch mattered.
The Indians manager is hopeful the outcome will propel his team into the actual playoffs.
Asdrubal Cabrera drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and Cleveland rallied off the stingy Kansas City Royals bullpen for a 5-3 victory Tuesday night that evened their series.
The win allowed the Indians to remain a half-game back of Texas and Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card race. The Royals are 3½ games adrift after the Rangers beat the Rays earlier in the night.
"That was a fun game to be part of, two teams that really want to win bad were competing a lot," Francona said. "We did enough to win."
The Indians were shut out until the sixth by Yordano Ventura, who made an electric major league debut. They tied the game 3-all in the seventh off reliever Kelvin Herrera, and Cabrera's double off Wade Davis (7-11) in the eighth scored Drew Stubbs and gave Cleveland the lead.
Michael Bourn added a homer in the ninth to provide a cushion.
"It's not always going to be pretty but we have to find a way to get it done," said Nick Swisher, whose sacrifice fly in the seventh tied it. "We have a scrappy group in here, and we're not done. We're going to keep pushing because we want this. We want it bad."
Cody Allen (6-1) was among six Indians relievers who kept Kansas City off the scoreboard the final 4 1-3 innings. Chris Perez handled a perfect ninth for his 25th save.
"It happens sometimes," Royals catcher Salvador Perez said of the collapse. "We have to keep going, keep playing hard through the last day of the season."
Ventura had already been saddled with the nickname "Ace" before Monday night, but in the first inning he looked more like a different film character: Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn.
He erratically walked Bourn on four pitches to lead off the game, and earned a roar when he finally threw a strike to Nick Swisher. The roar grew when Ventura got him to ground into a double play, and reached a crescendo when he struck out Jason Kipnis to end the inning.