CLEVELAND -- Consider what took place on Saturday night at Progressive Field a test of Sandy Alomar Jr.'s abilities as a manager. In terms of an audition for that full-time job, there is little else that could be squeezed within the confines of a single ballgame.
In a contest that dragged nearly to midnight in the Eastern Time Zone, the Indians were unable to outlast the Royals in a 7-6 loss that lasted 14 draining innings. Alomar was forced to cycle through nine pitchers and 14 position players in an effort to help Cleveland's late push in regulation pay off.
Instead, Alomar took his first loss as the interim skipper.
"There are going to be days like this," Alomar said. "But I'm very proud of the guys. They fought a great battle out there."
With two outs in the final frame, Tony Abreu stepped to the plate for his sixth at-bat of the evening and lofted a pitch from Indians lefty Scott Maine into shallow center field for single. Mike Moustakas, who drew a leadoff walk and later moved to second on a wild pitch, scored the go-ahead run after four innings of zeros.
Following the second singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" -- the rarely experienced 14th-inning stretch -- Ezequiel Carrera attempted one last rally with a leadoff bunt single for the Indians. From there, Shin-Soo Choo collected a base hit and Jason Kipnis drew a walk to load the bases with none out.
Hitting in such situations has been an issue for the Indians (66-92) all season -- Cleveland entered the night hitting .218 with the bases loaded this year -- and that did not change on this night. Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall each flew out, but neither sailed far enough to allow for a game-tying sacrifice fly.
Casey Kotchman followed with a groundout to first baseman Billy Butler to end the game. Kotchman also grounded out with a runner on second base in the 10th inning. In the 12th, the Indians first baseman chopped a pitch into the ground for an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners.
"Any time you have a chance to walk the other team off as many times as I got tonight," Kotchman said, "it's certainly frustrating."
Cleveland ended 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position and 20 runners left on base. That marked the most left on base in one game for the Indians since they stranded 23 against the Twins on May 7, 1995. It also represented just the seventh time since 1918 that the Indians left at least 20 on the basepaths in a single contest.
"So many times we've had opportunities," Choo said. "But we didn't take advantage of the chances. Still, that's part of baseball, but it hurts for the team."
Santana got a last-ditch rally going in the ninth with a leadoff walk against Royals closer Greg Holland. Chisenhall followed by slicing a pitch down the left-field line for a base hit. Later in the frame, Asdrubal Cabrera sent a pitch into the right-center field gap for a two-run, two-out double that pulled the game into a 6-6 deadlock.
The ninth-inning push overcame a rough three-inning showing from starter Jeanmar Gomez and turned the game into a battle of bullpens. Cleveland's relief corps combined to allow just three hits over 11 innings of work, but it was not enough in the end.
"The bullpen did a remarkable job," Alomar said. " They gave us a chance. Unfortunately, today with men in scoring position, we didn't hit very well."
After cruising for two innings, creating hope that a quality start was in the works, Gomez collapsed in a disastrous third. The right-hander retired the first two batters of the ill-fated frame, but then allowed six runs to the next six hitters he faced. Jeff Francoeur capped off the offensive explosion with a three-run home run to left field.
When the smoke cleared, Gomez had yielded six runs on seven hits.
"Gomez had problems with his command," Alomar said. "He needs to be more aggressive in the strike zone."
The Indians' offense did its part early on, forcing Royals starter Jake Odorizzi to work through 42 pitches in the first inning and chasing him from the contest after two innings. Despite that showing, the Tribe only managed one run in that span. In the first, Kipnis and Santana drew back-to-back walks, and Chisenhall followed with a run-scoring double to right.
Cleveland later took advantage of a botched play by Kansas City pitcher Nate Adcock to plate another run in the sixth. Adcock made two errors on one play -- first by mishandling a grounder from Carrera and then by air-mailing a throw to first base -- to allow Travis Hafner to score from second base.
In the eighth inning, Choo drove in a pair of runs with a bases-loaded single to right against Royals lefty Tim Collins.
That is where Cleveland's comeback ended.
"We'll get them tomorrow," said Choo, who realized the clock had already ticked into Sunday morning. "Or, I mean, later tonight. Today."