The squirrel was fearless.
Zach McAllister wasn’t nervous, either.
Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley hit two-run homers to back McAllister, powering the Cleveland Indians over the Kansas City Royals 4-3 Monday night when a trespassing squirrel ran around Progressive Field and provided some extra entertainment.
Kipnis connected in the sixth inning off Jeremy Guthrie (2-1), helping the Indians overcome a 3-2 deficit. Brantley provided Cleveland a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
McAllister (3-0) gave up six hits and overcame three errors — one on his errant throw in the fifth. Marc Rzepczynski and Cody Allen pitched a hitless inning each, and closer John Axford worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save.
After the Royals scored three times, McAllister got out of the fifth with an inning-ending double play and then shook off third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall’s error in the sixth and notched his third straight win.
“He didn’t let anything rattle him,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He worked to execute pitches. He was strong.”
McAllister also withstood a brief delay in the second when a squirrel ventured onto the field and eluded members of the grounds crew before finally leaving for the night.
“He was right in front of me,” McAllister said.
Indians first baseman Nick Swisher motioned for the critter to run to him, but it darted past and into the outfield grass.
“I was like, ‘C’mon over here and sit in my glove,”’ Swisher said. “I thought maybe he’d sit on my shoulder like a parrot. I tell you what, that squirrel is eating, bro. That was a big squirrel.”
The squirrel was directed inside the Royals bullpen by some of the grounds staff, but the slippery rodent escaped and returned for another scamper to the delight of the crowd of 10,789. The pesky intruder hung around for another inning before it was shooed into the Indians’ center-field bullpen.
The squirrel perched on a ledge for several minutes before jumping the wall into the Heritage Park monument area.
“That little joker was frolicking,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They could have arrested him for trespassing because he didn’t have a ticket.”
Alex Gordon and Omar Infante each had two of the Royals’ six hits.
Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi went hitless in four at-bats in his season debut. He missed Cleveland’s first 18 games with a broken rib.