CLEVELAND — Royals catcher Drew Butera stood underneath a heat lamp in the visiting dugout at Progressive Field on Saturday afternoon, his arms extended toward the ceiling to absorb the warmth. He had pulled off his batting gloves and was holding them between his fingers, as though to warm them up, too.
"I'll try anything," he said.
The Royals played in average temperatures of 41 degrees through their first five games of the season. The game-time temperature here, for their sixth game, was expected to hover around freezing.
So Butera and the Royals needed to thaw out.
Not only because of the cold, but also because in the week since Ian Kennedy made his first start of the year, the Royals had only scored four runs in three games. With a pair of games postponed because of snow and two off days, there had been no time for the Royals to get into any kind of rhythm.
The thawing had to come now, in the middle game of the first series of the season they will be able to complete _ the weather on Sunday, despite being chilly, should permit it. It had to be efficient.
In a 1-0 win over the Indians in which the Royals stranded four runners, their de-icing wasn't storybook efficient.
But it was enough.
With a swing on Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer's first pitch of the seventh inning, Lucas Duda cranked the Royals' hardest-hit ball of the game 408 feet to right field for a home run. It was all the Royals needed to enter the win column for just the second time this season.
That, and another stellar performance from Kennedy, who continued a string of 11 scoreless innings dating to last Saturday, when he allowed one run in the first inning and blanked the White Sox in what became a no-decision.
Kennedy struck out eight Indians Saturday, scattered four hits and located 75 of his 101 pitches for strikes over six innings. He received backup from utility player Ryan Goins, who at second base on Saturday was perfectly positioned to snag a line drive off the bat of Rajai Davis and flip the ball with his glove to first baseman Cheslor Cuthbert for an out.
The Royals bullpen, which started the season on a sour note by coughing up 13 runs in the first three games, contained the Indians, too. Blaine Boyer worked around a two-out single and walk, stranding both runners, while Justin Grimm faced just three batters after Butera caught Francisco Lindor attempting to steal second base in the eighth inning.
Kelvin Herrera locked up his second save with a perfect ninth inning.