By Jordan Bastian and Scott Chasen
MLB.com |@MLBastian |
KANSAS CITY -- Power was the theme of the day for the Indians as they launched five home runs and received a dominant outing from Carlos Carrasco en route to an 11-4 rout over the Royals on Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Led by a two-homer, six-RBI performance by rookie Tyler Naquin, the first-place Indians took two of three in the series. Cleveland now has a 7 1/2-game lead over second-place Detroit and a nine-game edge over Kansas City in the American League Central.
"Right in front of our eyes, we're seeing a kid get better at the Major League level," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's kind of fun to watch. He hits the ball to left field, which is not easy to do. And he hits the ball to center field -- that's kind of big boy area. He's a really strong kid and he's playing with a lot of confidence, as he should."
Mike Napoli, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis joined in the homer parade, which chased Royals righty Ian Kennedy from the contest after 4 1/3 innings. Kennedy was on the hook for four of the home runs as the Indians used a seven-run fifth inning to run away with this one.
Carrasco (7-3, 2.31 ERA) picked up the win after spinning six shutout innings, in which he struck out six, walked two and allowed just one hit. Over the three-game series, Cleveland's rotation combined for a 0.92 ERA with 21 strikeouts and six walks in 19 2/3 innings.
"Our group never quits," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Even when we're down big and it's a bazillion degrees out, they keep battling."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Naquin building ROY case: There is still a long way to go in the season, but Naquin is in position to push for votes in the AL's Rookie of the Year Award race. His two home runs (solo shot in the third and three-run blast in the fifth) gave him 12 on the year (all coming since his return from Triple-A on June 2). Naquin, who also had a two-run double in the fourth inning, leads all AL rookie hitters with a 2.2 WAR (per Fangraphs.com). More >
"We've got a long road ahead," Naquin said. "My goal is not Rookie of the Year. My goal is to win a whole lot and go to the championship, and win the World Series and help this ballclub."
Kennedy's streak continues: The Royals have been hurt by the long ball all year, and that trend continued on Wednesday. With one out and none on in the first, Kennedy gave up a solo shot to Kipnis, marking the ninth straight start in which he'd given up a home run. The Indians would go on to tag Kennedy for three more blasts, bringing his total number of home runs given up this season to 26, tied for the highest mark in the Majors (Chris Young). More >
"It was crazy. He gave up four home runs, the first three were actually pretty good pitches," Yost said. "[The] long ball got us today."
Dirty dozen: Cleveland sent 12 batters to the plate in an overwhelming outpouring of offense in the fifth inning. Santana, Napoli and Naquin all went deep in the seven-run frame, which also included an RBI single from Rajai Davis. The Tribe also drew two walks and pounded out six hits overall in the inning.
"It was unbelievable," Carrasco said of the offense. "You see that and you just go over there and, not relax, but you kind of throw a little more fastballs. That's what I did."
Hang 10: The Indians continued to fluster the Royals' offense deep into the rubber game. Cuthbert's double in the fourth was the lone hit off Carrasco in six innings. That hit extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games, where Cuthbert is hitting .417 (15-for-36) with five extra-base hits. Cuthbert picked up his second hit in the eighth inning, a single up the middle that scored Colon from second.
"He's just been very consistent, having good at-bats. That's why we moved him to the two-hole," Yost said. "He's been a pretty consistent player from the minute that he's gotten here, offensively, and very, very consistent defensively."
"It was like playing in a sauna. You know when you see a boxer get punched and the sweat goes off his face? I was seeing that when I was throwing, but off my arm. Your shirt gets heavy. Everyone's dealing with it, but you've just got to keep drinking fluids and stay hydrated. It's hot. It wears on you." --Kipnis, on playing with a 105 Heat Index
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Naquin became the first Indians rookie with six RBIs in a game since Turner Ward drove in six on Sept. 15, 1990, also against the Royals. Naquin became the club's first rookie with two homers and six RBIs in a game since Sept. 4, 1986, when Cory Snyder accomplished the feat against Milwaukee.
A Statcast™ SMORGASBORD
Santana's leadoff homer in the fifth (his 21st of the season) sailed 447 feet, marking the longest home run he has hit in the Statcast™ Era (2015-16). The blast came with an exit velocity of 108 mph, giving him two homers hit at least that hard this season. Napoli (nine), Naquin (two) and Santana (two) are the only Tribe hitters with 108-plus mph homers this year. Naquin's first homer on Wednesday had a 104-mph exit velocity, while his 439-foot shot to center in the fifth flew off his bat at 105 mph. Napoli (421 feet and 101 mph) and Kipnis (411 feet and 103 mph) also topped 400 feet and 100-mph with their respective blasts.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Indians will continue their three-city swing through Minneapolis, Kansas City and Baltimore with a three-game weekend set against the Orioles. Righty Trevor Bauer (7-3, 3.36 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Bauer has a 2.93 ERA over his past 13 appearances.
Royals: The Royals will visit the White House on Thursday, returning home on Friday to begin a three-game set at 7:15 p.m. CT against the Rangers at Kauffman Stadium. Left-hander Danny Duffy (5-1, 3.27) will get the ball for the series opener. The Royals are 4-0 in Duffy's last four starts and are 9-3 with him as a starter this year.