CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco did not need much help in earning his team-high 13th victory on Sunday against the Kansas City Royals, but the Tribe’s offense decided to give it to him anyway.
Carrasco tossed seven scoreless innings, striking out eight.
The Indians scored nine times in the second inning thanks to home runs by Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes as they beat the Royals for the third straight game, 12-0.
Cleveland’s pitching staff held Kansas City scoreless in all three games of the weekend series, pushing their streak to 28 consecutive shutout innings dating back to Thursday’s eighth inning against Boston.
“(Carrasco) got the lead and he was efficient after that and threw strikes,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
“He changed speeds. He allowed us to use (Craig) Breslow, which we wanted to. And Mac got an inning that he needed and we stayed away from everybody else.”
Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion and Brandon Guyer drove in runs in the first inning before Lindor’s two-run blast to left broke things open in the second against Royals lefty Eric Skoglund.
Skoglund lasted just 1.1 innings before he was replaced by Onelki Garcia. Santana greeted Garcia with a three-run homer off the foul pole in left field, and Gomes roped his second career grand slam to the bleachers four batters later.
“We’re all trying to build momentum starting the ballgame and we did with a three-run inning in the first, but then I think when you put a nine-run inning in that second you kind of take the air out of everyone,” Gomes said. “So you just let Cookie go and do his thing.”
Every player in Cleveland’s starting lineup had at least one hit by the second inning. The big lead enabled Francona to rest Lindor and Ramirez after the fourth inning.
“Those days are pretty infrequent, but they’re nice to have,” Francona said. “On a day when you’re resting Jay Bruce and you can take Frankie and Jose out, those things can really be helpful.”
Meanwhile, Indians pitchers have posted three consecutive shutouts for the first time since Sep. 18-19, 1956 against the Washington Senators.
That’s also the longest Indians shutout streak since a 31-inning run in 2008. The club record is 47 straight scoreless innings in 1948.
Kansas City’s offensive drought reached 34 innings, the longest in MLB since the White Sox went scoreless for 34 innings last year.
“It’s over,” Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield said. “There’s nothing we can do about it now. We all know we’re struggling. We know we haven’t scored a run in however long it’s been and guys are trying to take it upon themselves a little too much.”
What it means
The Indians improved to 32-23 in the AL Central and 16-9 in August. The gap between Cleveland and third-place KC increased to nine games in the standings.
Carrasco threw 83 pitches, 62 (74 percent) for strikes. He did not walk a batter. Skoglund threw 53 pitches, 34 (64 percent) for strikes.
Big innings against Kansas City are not uncommon for the Indians. Cleveland’s nine runs in the bottom of the second inning Sunday was the most they’ve scored in a single frame since posting 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on Sept. 30, 2012, also against the Royals.
The last time the Indians hit three home runs in a single inning? July 20, 2016 in the fifth inning against, you guessed it, the Royals.
Lindor’s 24 homers are tied for second most in a single season by a shortstop in club history. Asdrubal Cabrera had 25 in 2011. Jhonny Peralta 24 in 2005.
Thanks for coming
The Royals and Indians drew a near-sellout crowd of 32,229 to Progressive Field on Sunday. First pitch was at 1:11 p.m. with a temperature of 73 degrees.
The three-game weekend series brought 100,563 fans to the park, with two sellouts.
The Indians travel to New York for a three-game series with the Yankees starting Monday. Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA) will face Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10) in the opener at Yankee Stadium. Game time is 7:05 p.m. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM/1100 and WMMS/FM 100.7 will carry the game.
Kluber took a tough-luck loss against Boston on Wednesday, striking out 12 batters in 7.2 innings while allowing just two earned runs. Severino struck out eight in 6.2 innings as the Yankees topped Detroit in his last outing.