Indians shower Alomar with first win as skipper

Indians shower Alomar with first win as skipper

Indians shower Alomar with first win as skipper
CLEVELAND -- No matter what happens over the course of the next few weeks, whether the Indians decide to hire Sandy Alomar Jr. as their full-time manager or look for an alternative solution, he will always have this first win.

For now, for one memorable day, Alomar can say he is undefeated as Cleveland's skipper.

On Friday night, the Indians unloaded on the Royals early and cruised to an 8-5 victory at Progressive Field, sending Alomar to the win column in his first game as the club's interim manager. Alomar assumed the duties of Manny Acta, who was dismissed on Thursday's off-day.

"Obviously, every day is not going to be this way," Alomar said. "There are going to be days more stressful than others."

Following the win, a smiling Alomar sat inside an interview room, his Indians uniform soaked from the celebratory beer shower that welcomed him when he walked into the clubhouse. Closer Chris Perez retrieved the baseball from the final out and presented it to Alomar to keep as a personal memento.

Asked if he planned to keep the ball, Alomar let out a slight laugh.

"I don't know. It's all full of beer right now," he said. "They sprayed me a little bit. It's all wet."

The elements that led to Acta's downfall -- poor starting pitching and a lack of situational hitting -- were the reason Alomar found success on his first day at the helm. Lefty David Huff gave the Tribe a quality start and the offense poured out eight runs in the first five frames to give Cleveland (66-91) its third win in a row.

That ended the Indians' run of 74 consecutive games without experiencing three straight wins, a stretch dating to July 6.

"Today was what's been missing," Tribe reliever Joe Smith said.

Smith was thrilled to get into the ballgame given his history with Alomar. They were actually teammates with the New York Mets in 2007, which was Alomar's final season in an accomplished 20-year playing career. After that brief stint together as players, Smith has had Alomar as a coach for parts of four years

In his first game as manager, Alomar called upon Smith in the eighth inning to get three outs, a task the sidearmer completed.

"From getting to know Sandy and his family," Smith said, "it was always one of those things where, if this guy ever gets a managerial job, he's one of those guys who you'd love to play for. It was nice for his first game to get in there."

The victory was a fine way for Alomar to begin his six-game tour in the manager's seat. Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Indians plan on conducting a search for a permanent skipper. Alomar will be a primary candidate, along with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, according to general manager Chris Antonetti.

What was Alomar's biggest concern for his first game? Watching his step during his first managerial mound visit.

"I just made sure I didn't trip," he said with a chuckle.

Alomar did not collect his win without first sidestepping some drama.

Billy Butler crushed a two-run home run off Huff in the sixth inning and Kansas City added another pair against Indians lefty Scott Maine in the eighth, cutting the Tribe's lead to 8-5. From there, though, Cleveland's bullpen -- Smith in the eighth and Perez in the ninth bore down and slammed the door.

Perez earned his 39th save of the season in the process.

"That's our winning formula, at least when we're going good," Perez said. "Get a good start from the starter, the offense come out and get ahead, kind of hold them there all game and then hand it over to our bullpen. Sandy followed the perfect game plan."

Huff (3-0) picked up the win after holding the Royals (70-87) to three runs on eight hits over six innings. Besides allowing Butler's 29th home run of the season, Huff also surrendered an RBI double to Adam Moore in the second. Beyond that, Huff was solid, ending his outing with five strikeouts and zero walks.

Huff was just happy to not let Alomar down.

"It was kind of funny," Huff said. "He told me before the game, 'Hey, this is my first game managing. Don't disappoint me.' I was like, 'OK, no pressure.' It was good. I'm glad we ended up winning tonight and getting him the 'W.'"

Cleveland chased Kansas City lefty Will Smith from the contest after three innings, during which he spotted the club six runs on nine hits. The Indians churned out five straight hits in the second, a string that included run-scoring contributions from Ezequiel Carrera, Shin-Soo Choo and Cord Phelps.

Lonnie Chisenhall added an RBI double off Smith in the third inning, and the Tribe followed with two runs in each of the fourth and fifth frames. Amidst the flurry of hits was a second RBI double from Choo and run-scoring hits from Jason Kipnis. In the fifth, Kipnis knocked in a pair with a two-out, bases-loaded single off Everett Teaford.

Alomar liked what he saw.

"They were out there fighting hard, trying to get that win," Alomar said. "I appreciate that. I have five more games and then we'll see what happens."

Getting the first game, and the first win, out of the way was an important step.

"You're in the dugout now," Alomar said. "I felt pretty comfortable when I got there."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for 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.