The Indians are six games in front of the second-place Twins and 6 1/2 games ahead of the Royals in the division standings. Kansas City sits just a half-game back in the AL Wild Card chase.
Recently acquired Jay Bruce continued his impressive start with the Indians, delivering two-run and three-run homers. Since being acquired in a trade with the Mets, Bruce is 13-for-32 (.406) with three home runs, four doubles and 11 RBIs.
"I just feel like I've added to an already deep lineup," Bruce said. "I think I help lengthen it, but like I've said, I feel like a broken record, these guys were really good before I got here. So, I'm just trying to do my part and help when I can."
Indians starter Corey Kluber left the game due to a sprained right ankle with one out in the sixth. Eric Hosmer hit a slow roller toward first and Kluber appeared to grimace as he ran to cover the bag. Hosmer was safe, and while Kluber tried to stay in, facing one more batter, manager Terry Francona removed him for Andrew Miller, just off the disabled list. Miller didn't allow a run.
"It's a low ankle sprain. Kind of on the mild side," Francona said. "I think the biggest thing is we'll see how he shows up [Saturday]. If he can make a side day, he'll [make his next scheduled start]. If not, maybe we'll have to bump him back. But I don't think it's anything other than that."
Kluber gave up six hits and one run while striking out four -- his streak of 14 games with eight or more strikeouts came to an end.
Royals starter Ian Kennedy was off from the start and lasted only 2 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and five runs, including two home runs.
"These types of games are where you look at it and you say, 'OK, my starter just didn't have his good stuff and they blow us out,'" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It doesn't hit you anywhere like the game in Oakland [a 10-8 loss Tuesday] did, where you take the lead in the eighth inning. We got beat tonight. You look back and guys competed, but they were better than us tonight. You can kinda live with that -- come back tomorrow and do it all over again."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gomes comes through: Kennedy again was wobbling in the third inning when he loaded the bases with two out on two walks and a single. That brought up Yan Gomes, who came into the game hitting .226. But Kennedy delivered a curveball up and Gomes poked it into right field for a two-run single, giving the Tribe a commanding 5-1 lead. It also ended Kennedy's outing.
"The score at the end, it was spread out a little bit, but it was a pretty tight game," Francona said. "When you use the whole field, you don't always have to hit it 400 feet. It's just the way teams are shifting now, if you're able to use the whole field, you're going to find some hits."
And there goes the rally: The Royals, down 5-1 in the fourth, had a chance to crawl back closer. With one out, Melky Cabrera lined a sharp single to left. Then, Mike Moustakas placed a soft liner in the gap in left, and hustled into second with a double as Cabrera took third. That brought up Brandon Moss with the corner infielders in. Moss ripped a hard grounder right at first baseman Carlos Santana, who stepped on first for the second out. Moustakas, though, ventured toward third base as Cabrera held. Santana threw behind Moustakas to shortstop Francisco Lindor, who easily tagged out Moustakas for a double play.
"Mossy smoked the ball," Yost said. "He hit it so hard [that] it just kind of caught Moose in no-man's land out there. It's just kind of tough luck. It's a little of both. You gotta pick up Melky in that spot. But the ball's hit so hard that you just take that one step and he steps on the bag, and he's got you."
"It's nice to be back out there. It's nice to join the guys and be part of a win. Obviously a big win for us to start a series in the division, but the big concern is Corey. Obviously, he pitched well, as usual, up until [the injury]. I just hope he's all right. He seems like he will be." -- Miller
"You have those days where you have A-stuff or B-stuff where you can win. Then, you have C-stuff where you grind. Today was a D or F." -- Kennedy
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kluber's streak with at least eight strikeouts ended at 14 starts, which was tied for the fourth-longest run of its kind in baseball history. Randy Johnson boasts the longest such streak overall (17 between the 1999 and 2000 seasons) and in one season (15 in a row in '99). Pedro Martinez (16 across '97-98 and 15 between '99-00) is the only other pitcher on that exclusive list.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
It took only 29 seconds to review a bang-bang play at first base in the third inning and overturn a safe call by first-base umpire Marvin Hudson. Lorenzo Cain sent a grounder to Lindor, whose throw beat the runner to first. Even though Cain was initially called safe, he returned to the dugout while the review was taking place.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Trevor Bauer (11-8, 4.72 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe at 7:15 p.m. ET on Saturday against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Bauer made a brief relief appearance on Thursday, but he only threw nine pitches. Bauer is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his past four starts.
Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas (14-6, 3.45) will start the middle game of the series against the Indians on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT. Vargas went six innings and gave up three runs in a 14-6 win over the White Sox on Sunday.