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Guardians score 3 runs on Witt’s wild throw, down Royals 8-5 in matchup of AL Central’s top teams

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Kansas City shortstop Bobby Witt’s Jr.’s throwing error led to Cleveland scoring three runs on an infield grounder in the seventh inning in the Guardians’ 8-5 win over the Royals on Tuesday night, the first matchup this season between the AL Central’s top two teams.

The Guardians trailed 5-0 in the fourth before storming back to win the three-game series opener and push their division lead to five over the Royals.

Witt clobbered a pair of two-run homers totaling nearly 1,000 feet, but his errant throw in the seventh swung the game to Cleveland.

“I made a mistake,” Witt said. “It cost us the game.”

After Tyler Freeman’s homer tied it 5-5 for the Guardians and chased Royals starter Seth Lugo, Cleveland loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice and two walks — one by Sam Long (0-1) — with two outs when David Fry hit a grounder up the middle.

Witt gloved it to the right of the base and initially tried to beat Josh Naylor to second for a force. When Witt realized he couldn’t get the sliding Naylor, he unleashed a wild throw that first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino had no chance of getting.

The ball wound up in the photographer’s pit, and because Naylor had already gotten to second base, he was awarded third and home.

Witt wished he could have a do-over.

“I should have just thrown the ball to first and made the play,” he said. “I just kind of slow played it and should have just made the decision to throw it to first. You learn from it and you try not to make those mistakes and do the little things right and tonight I didn’t.

“I’ve got to move on and learn from it,” he said while there was little conversation taking place in Kansas City’s subdued clubhouse following a tough loss.

Over in Cleveland’s side, it was a familiar scene — music and card games following the club’s 15th come-from-behind win.

“Our guys truly believe we’re one rally, one hit away from starting a rally to come back and we don’t quit,” said Guardians manager Stephen Vogt. “These guys don’t quit. And it’s just a testament to who they are. That’s who they’ve always been. And it’s just that belief that we’re going to come back.”

Rookie Cade Smith (3-0) came on for Triston McKenzie, and Emmanuel Clase worked the ninth for his AL-leading 19th save. Clase has given up just one earned run in 2024.

Naylor hit a two-run homer for the Guardians, who reached 40 wins in 60 games for just the fourth time in club history. They also did it in 1954 (42-18), 1995 (42-18) and 1999 (40-20).

Witt connected in the third and fourth innings off Cleveland starter McKenzie, who has given up eight homers in his last three starts.

Down 5-0 in the fourth after Witt’s second homer, the Guardians got Naylor’s 16th homer while scoring three in the fourth off Lugo, who came in leading the AL in wins (9) and was 6-0 in six road starts.

OLD FRIENDS, NEW RIVALS

Vogt credits Royals manager Matt Quatraro for helping shape his path to the majors.

Vogt’s first manager in the minor leagues was Quatraro.

“He taught me everything,” Vogt said. “How to work and act like a professional. I had him my first two years and I couldn’t have been more thankful for somebody to show me what it means to be a pro, what it means to work, what it means to hold your teammates accountable and hold yourself accountable to being the best you can be.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: OF Kyle Isbel wasn’t in the lineup out of an abundance of caution after colliding with Witt in Sunday’s game. Isbel was struck in the head by Witt’s knee as they chased a bloop. Isbel also recently fouled a ball off his face and suffered bruises and fractures. “This was just me being more careful than trying to rush him,” Quatraro said.

Guardians: RHP Gavin Williams (elbow soreness) pitched 2 1/3 innings in his second rehab start for Triple-A Columbus.

UP NEXT

The Guardians will go with a bullpen game Tuesday as reliever Nick Sandlin makes his first career start against Royals RHP Brady Singer (4-2, 2.63), who gave up a career-high 13 hits in his previous outing at Progressive Field.

It had been Logan Allen’s turn in the rotation, but Vogt said he’ll be available in relief.

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This story has been changed to correct that Cleveland has started with 40 wins in 60 games four times, not three.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer

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