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-of-four games from the division-leading Detroit Tigers, the Tribe stumbled through a 1-6 rough patch. During the skid, starting pitchers rarely lasted beyond five innings, relievers dished 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 halted on Sunday’s get-away-day, so follow along for some reading enjoyment as the Indians head back to Cleveland following the 5-6 trip and the reward of an off day Monday.
Starter Danny Salazar (3-4) looked a lot more like his 2013 rookie version, pitching in his second game back with the Tribe following a two-month sabbatical at Triple-A Columbus. The right-hander lasted seven strong innings, limiting the host to three runs on seven hits. He did not issue a walk and struck out seven over the 112-pitch outing.
In relief of Salazar, Bryan Shaw and Kyle Crockett combined for two scoreless innings to preserve the victory.
Defense? Check. There were no errors on the day for the Tribe – even with Ryan Raburn starting in left field and Nick Swisher starting on the other outfield corner in right. Swisher even made a diving catch going to his left to rob Salavador 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 pair of 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 marked his major-league leading 72nd of the season.
Sunday’s game put an exclamation mark on Santana’s extraordinary week of hitting that included six homers and 10 RBI. The Tribe’s first baseman batted .609, had a .690 on-base percentage, a 1.522 slugging percentage and a 2.212 slugging percentage.
Santana led the Indians offense Sunday to 10 runs on 15 hits – and that was even with seven men left on base. Also joining in the 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 Yan Gomes (3-for-5) busted out with a three-hit day that included two RBI. Even struggling Swisher, who was mired in an 0-for-21 skid, added a RBI single.