All this from the team that entered the day as the second-lowest scoring team in the American League.
"It's baseball. It's one of those things where you can struggle and struggle and struggle, and then have a day like today, and then go out and do the same thing the rest of the year," said third baseman Jack Hannahan. "We've been capable of it. We've shown signs of it. We just haven't put it all together, which is the frustrating part. But it's always a good sign to come out and have an offensive day like we did today."
The offensive output was even more remarkable considering Royals starter Jake Odorizzi, who was making his Major League debut, held the Indians offense almost completely in check through the game's first five innings. The Indians couldn't solve Odorizzi the first couple trips through the batting order, picking up just a pair of singles and a walk. But the third time around, Cleveland jumped on the Royals' No. 1 pitching prospect in the sixth inning.
Trailing 1-0, Jason Kipnis lined a grounder past first baseman Eric Hosmer and all the way down into the right-field corner for a one-out triple. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a base hit into right-center to score Kipnis and tie the game. Santana then launched the first pitch of his at-bat into the Indians bullpen in right field for a two-run homer, pushing the Indians into the lead. After one more hitter, Odorizzi was pulled from the game.
"It's always an adjustment period the first time you face a guy with not a lot of video or report time," Hannahan said. "So, we really didn't know what we were kind of getting into."
And while the Indians had scored as many runs in each of the previous two games in one inning, they were far from finished. Helped by some Kansas City fielding mistakes, Cleveland scored five more times in the seventh inning.
Two of the inning's first three hitters reached base, and both attempted to steal to advance into scoring position. Royals catcher Adam Moore's throw to third sailed into left field and allowed Shin-Soo Choo to come home and extend the Cleveland lead to 4-1.
After a walk, Santana singled to right field, and a throwing error by Jeff Francoeur allowed another run to score. After an intentional walk to Michael Brantley, Casey Kotchman lifted a fly ball to deep center, which center fielder Jason Bourgeois lost in the sun. The ball fell at his feet, and another run scored to make it a 6-1 game. A single and a groundout would drive in two more runs in the inning, which ended with the score at 8-1.
"You can't give teams four outs in an inning, especially in the American League, where you're going to get hurt," said Hannahan, who singled home a run in the frame. "Good teams take advantage of the other team's mistakes. Good thing that we did it today."
"We've seen it done to us, too," Acta said. "That's what baseball's all about. It's 27 outs, no more. If you get extra outs in any inning, you should take advantage of it if they're given to you. And that's what we preach over here, so I'm glad we were finally able to take advantage of that."
After the Royals scored three in the seventh and eighth innings combined, the Tribe answered in a big way, plating seven in the top of the ninth.
Ezequiel Carrera singled to drive in a run, Choo took a bases-loaded walk, Kipnis drove in a run on a fielder's choice and Cabrera singled in the fourth run of the frame to make it a 12-4 game. Santana then launched his second home run of the game, this one a three-run shot that extended the lead to 15-4. Santana matched a career high with five RBIs on the afternoon.
"It was a very good day," Santana said.
Santana raised his home run total to 18 on the season and his RBI count to 75. He's totaled 13 homers and 45 RBIs since the All-Star break.
With all the offense, it's easy to lose sight of the pitching performance of Indians starter David Huff. The lefty was making just his second start of the year, and he had a solid day, allowing one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. He picked up his second win of the year in four appearances. It's his first winning start since Aug. 29 of last season against the A's.
"I'm just doing what I can do, and that's go out and keep our team in it every time," Huff said. "Be aggressive, get after the guys, and just let the offense do their work."
"He's thrown the ball well for us," Acta said. "Hopefully his next outing, he can go out there and pitch well and go into the offseason on a positive note. ... That's what we're going to be remembering all through the offseason and in Spring Training. He can only help himself out."