By Jeffrey Flanagan and August Fagerstrom
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
CLEVELAND -- The Indians unleashed a week of pent-up offensive frustration upon the Kansas City Royals with a season-high 18 hits and four home runs in a 12-1 win on Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.
The outburst could also be viewed as a release stemming from an inability to score with Corey Kluber on the mound this season. Kluber entered the contest receiving a Major League-low 2.41 runs per game. Wednesday was just the fourth time in 22 starts that Kluber received more than four runs of support. He more than did his part, too, holding the Royals to a ninth-inning run in his second complete game of the season and the fifth of his career. He struck out six and walked one, allowing just five hits.
"Some of their guys wanted to have early contact, some guys were a little more patient, and it didn't really seem like it mattered," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He had something for everything. He kept the ball on the ground. He was really in control."
Jeremy Guthrie's season-long struggles on the mound continued, as he allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits, a walk and three home runs in 5 1/3 innings. Following the recent acquisition of Johnny Cueto, one of the Royals' current starters will lose their spot in the rotation, with the roles of Guthrie and Chris Young in question.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he won't make a decision on his fifth starter until Tuesday.
"[Guthrie] was kind of classic Guthrie for the first five innings," Yost said. "He had a lot of traffic the first two innings, but limited the damage. He settled in the third, fourth and fifth. It just kind of fell apart there in the sixth."
With the win, the Indians snapped an eight-game home losing skid, avoiding what would have been their longest such streak since 1931.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First step forward: The Indians quickly got ahead of Guthrie, sending seven hitters to the plate in a 31-pitch first inning. Jason Kipnis led things off with a single, and Francisco Lindor matched him in the next at-bat. A walk by Carlos Santana loaded the bases, and Guthrie made matters worse by hitting Yan Gomes to bring home the first run. The Indians had scored first in just 38 of their first 99 games, but they are 30-8 when doing so.
"That's how you answer," center fielder Michael Bourn said. "You make them pay for it, so we did that and we had a good game offensively today, especially with Kluber on the mound." More >
Small window of opportunity: The Royals were pretty much helpless against Kluber all day. But they did stir it up offensively in the fifth. Eric Hosmer ended Kluber's perfect-game bid by leading off with a slashing double down the left-field line. With one out, Omar Infante, who had two hits off Kluber, bunted for a single as Hosmer took third. But Kluber got rookie Paulo Orlando to chase a slider in the dirt for strike three and Drew Butera hit a harmless groundout to second base. The Royals did break through in the ninth on an RBI groundout by Alex Rios.
"He really threw the ball well," third baseman Mike Moustakas said about Kluber. "Good slider, cutter, changeup. Had command of them all. Just a tough day for us offensively." More >
Home run derby: The Indians' offense broke out in a six-run sixth inning against Guthrie, sending 10 batters to the plate and hitting three home runs. Giovanny Urshela started things off with a solo blast as the second batter of the inning, and Lindor followed him up with a three-run homer, four batters later. Michael Brantley, the next batter, worked an eight-pitch at-bat that was topped off by a solo shot of his own to right field, giving the Tribe an 8-0 lead and ending Guthrie's afternoon.
"It was nice to get that cushion there," Kluber said. "Up to that point, it was a close game. I'm trying to keep the lead, and then when you get that cushion, you can go out there and attack."
Nobody left out: The Indians strung together six consecutive hits for a second time in the game with a four-run eighth inning. Brantley singled, Santana doubled, Brandon Moss singled and Gomes hit a home run off Luke Hochevar to begin the inning. Urshela and Bourn kept things going with singles of their own after Gomes' blast. All nine starting batters had at least one hit and scored for the Tribe.
"Part of it is just when guys start getting on, you've got a pitcher in the stretch, a hole open at first, things start to happen," Francona said. "But there's probably a reason guys are getting hit anyway. Maybe the guy who's throwing is leaving balls up or whatever, but we took advantage of it."
Francona received his third ejection of the season in the fifth inning after arguing with home-plate umpire Tom Woodring after Brantley was hit by a pitch. Guthrie had already hit two batters in the game, and both sides were warned when Guthrie struck Kipnis in the second inning.
"I just thought that the umpire, when he puts that out there, then for him to tell me, 'No, [it wasn't intentional],'" Francona said. "I didn't think that was appropriate. I think they protect the younger umpires. If he's older enough to throw me out, he's old enough to listen to what I have to say." More >
Upon Kipnis' hit-by-pitch in the second inning, he was promptly picked off first base by Guthrie. Kipnis immediately waved into the dugout, signaling he wanted the ruling to be reviewed, but the call was confirmed after a one-minute, 50-second review.
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (4-4, 4.03 ERA) takes the mound for Kansas City as it opens a four-game set with Toronto. Newcomer Ben Zobrist is expected to join the team Thursday and start in left field..
Indians: Cleveland travels to Oakland to begin a four-game series against the Athletics and a seven-game West Coast trip. Carlos Carrasco (10-8, 4.26 ERA) will start the series opener, coming off a rough outing against the White Sox in which he allowed six earned runs in four innings and felt he may have been tipping his pitches.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB and listen to his podcast. August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.