Cleveland takes Sunday game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (MCT) -- In a series in which so little went right for the unpredictable Indians over the first three games, it only made sense that they'd wrap up their exhausting 11-game road trip with a convincing 10-3 win over the Royals in which they seemingly could do no wrong.
After kicking off the three-city, 11-game road trip in giddy fashion by winning three out of four games from the division-leading Detroit Tigers, the Indians stumbled through a 1-6 rough patch -- winning one of three against the Twins, then dropping the first three of the ensuing series against the Royals.
During the skid, Indian starting pitchers rarely lasted beyond five innings, relievers gave up home runs to ignite late rallies, sloppy defense proved costly and a streaky offense either scored in bunches or not at all.
But that all came to a halt Sunday as the Indians headed back to Cleveland after the 5-6 trip to get a well earned off day today.
Starter Danny Salazar (3-4) looked a lot more like his 2013 rookie version, pitching in his second game back with the Indians after a two-month sabbatical at Triple-A Columbus. The right-hander lasted seven strong innings, limiting the Royals to three runs on seven hits. He did not issue a walk and struck out seven over the 112-pitch outing.
"He made adjustments today," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And when they scored two runs off him early, he didn't let that bother him."
The Royals took a modest lead with single runs in the second and third innings. After Salazar retired the first two batters of the second inning, he gave up three consecutive singles -- a rally capped by Jarrod Dyson's RBI-hit to left field.
In the next inning, Nori Aoki led off with a double, and then scored two batters later on Alex Gordon's sacrifice fly.
Salazar allowed the Royals' third and final run in the sixth inning when red-hot Billy Butler, who feasted on Indians pitching all series, doubled Gordon home with two outs.
In relief of Salazar, Bryan Shaw and Kyle Crockett combined for two scoreless innings to preserve the victory.
There were no errors on Sunday for the Indians -- even with Ryan Raburn starting in left field and Nick Swisher starting in right. Swisher even made a diving catch going to his left to rob Salvador Perez of a hit to lead off the second inning.
Offense? Double check.
Carlos Santana led the way -- again -- with another two-home run game. The two long balls to right field marked his fourth and fifth over a three-game span, as he tied the club record of five homers in a series with five other players in Indians history -- with the last to accomplish the feat being Travis Hafner in 2004. In the second inning, Santana's walk was his major-league leading 72nd of the season.
"I love to hit behind [Santana], but he's got to leave some guys on for me, too," joked designated hitter Yan Gomes, who batted fifth and followed Santana's second home run in back-to-back fashion with a solo shot of his own.
Sunday's game put an exclamation mark on Santana's extraordinary week of hitting that included six homers and 10 RBI. The Indians's first baseman batted .609, had a .690 on-base percentage, a 1.522 slugging percentage and a 2.212 OPS [on-base plus slugging].
"He's been a blessing for us," Francona said of Santana. "The more guys we can get hot, the better. But when Carlos is hot, it's not singles or hits.
"It's a lot of damage."
With Santana leading the way, the Indians pounded out 15 hits, with a majority of the damage coming against Royals left-handed starting pitcher Bruce Chen (2-3).
The Indians first trimmed the Royals' lead to 2-1 with a fourth-inning run against Chen, then jumped all over him for runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth before chasing him from the game. The Indians then piled on a run against relievers Francisley Bueno in the seventh and then three final runs -- including back-to-back homers by Santana and Yan Gomes in the ninth -- against Aaron Crow.
Also joining the Indians hit barrage was Asdrubal Cabrera (2-for-5 with two runs scored), who returned to the lineup for the first time in six days after being sidelined with lower back soreness.
Michael Brantley (2-for-4 with two runs scored) contributed as well, and Gomes (3-for-5) added three hits and two RBIs.