Moss breaks out with career-high 7 RBIs, 2 homers

Moss breaks out with career-high 7 RBIs, 2 homers

DETROIT -- This was the kind of night the Indians had in mind when they traded for Brandon Moss over the offseason. Cleveland envisioned towering home runs from the slugger out of the heart of its lineup, putting pressure on opposing pitchers.

On Friday night, Moss provided precisely that for the Tribe, launching a pair of home runs and piling up a career-high seven RBIs to power his new team to a 13-1 romp over the rival Tigers. Moss wanted to make a strong first impression with Cleveland, but it took a little more than two weeks for him and the rest of the lineup to wake from an early-April slumber.

"You want to impress," Moss said. "You want to get off to a good start. But mainly, when the offense is struggling, you want to be something that sparks and ignites it, to help out and do what you're supposed to do."

Moss' second homer

Moss did what he is supposed to do in the Motor City.

"Tonight shows what he's capable of," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When you get a guy that can hit like that, he can carry you."

Moss finished Friday's onslaught 3-for-5 for a Cleveland club that set single-game season highs in runs and hits (15) in the first tilt of this three-game set. His seven RBIs tied Jack Cust (Aug. 10, 2007), Bobby Higginson (June 13, 2000) and Mike Sweeney (July 22, 2004) for the most in a game in Comerica Park history. Moss also improved his career average in Detroit's home stadium to .465 in 43 at-bats.

In the first inning, Moss slashed a two-run double against Tigers righty Shane Greene, who had only allowed one run in his previous three starts. In the fifth, Moss belted a three-run home run to cap off a six-run inning for the Indians, who had not scored more than six in a game this year prior to Friday. The right fielder then added a high, arcing two-run blast off reliever Al Alburquerque in the ninth.

Tribe scores six in the 5th

It marked the seventh career multihomer game for Moss, who last achieved the feat in the regular season with Oakland on June 23 last season against the Yankees. Moss also drilled a pair of home runs for the A's in their American League Wild Card Game against the Royals on Sept. 30 last year.

Tribe fans had been waiting to see this version of Moss. The first two weeks were a nightmare for the slugger.

"You're watching pitches a little too long, and you end up taking a lot of pitches you should swing at," Moss said. "And then you're a little late or a tick off on pitches you normally hit. You try to battle through it and keep your head above water, do something to help the team out while you're struggling. And then, eventually, that aggressiveness and that confidence come back."

In his first seven games for Cleveland, which acquired Moss in December in exchange for Minor League infielder Joe Wendle, he hit just .100 (2-for-20) with a .150 slugging percentage. In his next six games, including Friday's outpouring, Moss hit .318 (7-for-22) with an .818 slugging percentage.

"I think when you're new, you're trying to impress," Francona said. "But today, he took that first swing, and it was like you could take a deep breath and relax a little bit. And then you saw what he did after that."

This was what more what Moss and the Indians had in mind.

"I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to come out of it quicker than I was coming out of it," Moss said of his slump. "The pressure mounts on you, and you start looking at the scoreboard and seeing it go .048, .032, and you're like, 'What in the world?' It's just one of those things that can weigh on you.

"I knew I would come out of it. It was just wanting to come out of it sooner."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.