KANSAS CITY -- When Gil Meche was given a five-year, $55 million free-agent contract by the Royals before the '07 season, it was one of those deals that makes general managers wince. But the Indians were the ones wincing on a rainy Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. Meche was at his best, and you couldn't exactly say the same about the Tribe bats in a 3-1 loss to the Royals. The loss snapped the Indians' 10-game road winning streak -- their longest such streak since 2001.
In seven innings against Meche, the Indians managed just a run on three hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. They only put one runner past first base all night. "Obviously, Meche was the story," manager Eric Wedge said. "He was moving his fastball around effectively. I thought he did a really good job against us." Left-hander Zach Jackson did a pretty good job for the Indians, save for one inning. And that inning would prove to be his and his team's undoing. In the second inning, Jackson had a runner on and none out when Miguel Olivo hit a comebacker to the mound. Jackson fielded the ball and fired to second in an attempt to start a double play. But his throw to shortstop Jhonny Peralta was wide, pulling Peralta off the bag. The out was made at second, but Peralta had little to no chance to making a timely relay throw to first, so the Tribe settled for a fielder's choice. "We had a chance for a double-play ball, but [Jackson] threw the ball away," Peralta said. "So it was hard to make the play there." The inning snowballed from there. Mark Teahen followed with a single to right to put two on. With two out, Esteban German singled on a ground ball to left to score Olivo. Teahen streaked into third and Gathright moved to second on a throw to third. Having the runners in scoring position would prove significant when David DeJesus hit a soft fly ball for a single to shallow left and both runners came home. With that, it was 3-0, but the rough inning didn't stop Jackson from putting an effective outing together. The Royals mounted some threats but never got another run across for the remainder of his seven innings of work. "After an inning like [the second], where there weren't too many hard-hit balls, you've got to bounce back and put up as many zeroes as you can," Jackson said. "I wasn't as aggressive early on." Meche, on the other hand, was aggressive from the start. He tied a career high for strikeouts. "He pitched the ball away and inside," said Peralta, who was responsible for two of those K's. "He moved the ball around a lot and never went to the middle of home plate. He did a good job." Meche traditionally hasn't done so well against the Tribe. He came in with a 3-7 record and 5.20 ERA in his career against them, and this was the same Meche who was tattooed for eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings at Progressive Field on April 22. "They've had my number for a long time," Meche said of the Indians. "Even my first start against them this year, they beat me up pretty bad. I don't know if it's figuring out how to pitch 'em or having really good stuff on the days I face 'em. But if you face guys over and over, you start to get a feel for 'em." The only guy in the Tribe lineup who had any feel for facing Meche was the hot-hitting Shin-Soo Choo, who had two of the three hits off Meche. Choo's leadoff triple in the fifth set up Ryan Garko's sacrifice fly for the Indians' only run. And the Indians went down just as quietly against Royals relievers Ramon Ramirez, who worked a perfect eighth, and Joakim Soria, who did likewise in the ninth. "They pitched a great ballgame," Wedge said. It all started with Meche. The Indians certainly made him look worthy of his paycheck.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.