Indians use big first inning to beat Royals 8-3
Friday, April 13, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Michael Brantley had one hit in 17 at-bats during Cleveland’s season-opening homestand. One measly hit.
He had two of ‘em in the first inning alone Friday.
The Indians’ anemic offense broke loose against Luke Hochevar and the Royals. Cleveland pounded out seven runs in the opening frame, and Asdrubal Cabrera tacked on a ninth-inning homer for good measure in an 8-3 victory that spoiled Kansas City’s home opener.
“That’s the way the game goes,” Indians manager Manny Acta said, almost shrugging in his chair. “Water usually goes to the level it’s supposed to be. I knew those guys would bat better, and the first inning was a great example of that.”
Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis each drove in a pair as the Indians scored more times in the opening inning than they had in any of their first five games.
The seven runs allowed by Hochevar (1-1) in the first inning matched the number of runs that Kansas City starters had allowed during a six-game road trip to begin the season.
“You couldn’t ask for a better way to start off,” Kipnis said.
Derek Lowe (2-0) gave up three runs and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings for Cleveland. The 38-year-old right-hander routinely worked out of trouble, getting help from a pair of double plays that kept Kansas City from mounting much of a comeback.
“When you’re pitching on the road in the other team’s home opener, there’s going to be a lot of buzz,” Lowe said. “To sort of silence them right away, you can’t ask for much more.”
Hochevar’s miserable start got a whole lot worse in the fourth inning, when he took a liner off his left ankle hit by Cleveland slugger Carlos Santana.
The right-hander went down in a heap as the ball caromed to first base for the final out of the inning. Team officials rushed out to tend to Hochevar, who put almost no weight on his ankle while being helped to the dugout by manager Ned Yost and trainer Nick Kenney.
The team said that Hochevar had a “left medial ankle contusion” — or, a really bad bruise. X-rays taken at the ballpark came back negative and he is day to day.
“When it hit him, I was real nervous. It got him solid,” Yost said. “I had some fears there it might have fractured his leg, but the X-rays came up negative.”
Yost said he’s not sure whether Hochevar will make his next scheduled start.
“We’ll see,” Yost said. “It’s five days away.”
The first inning was a revelation for Cleveland, which batted just .176 during a miserable 1-4 start that even prompted management to work out a deal with veteran outfielder Johnny Damon to provide some eventual pop in the Indians’ punchless lineup.
Perhaps the Indians jumped to some conclusions.
Brantley snapped a 0-for-15 skid with a leadoff single, and Cabrera’s double and Choo’s two-run single put an early jolt in the Indians’ struggling offense.
Shelley Duncan and Casey Kotchman added back-to-back singles later in the first inning, and Kipnis brought both in with a shot to center that center fielder Jarrod Dyson — called up to replace the injured Lorenzo Cain — misjudged in the wind as he approached the warning track.
Brantley’s RBI double in his second at-bat of the inning gave Cleveland a 7-0 lead.
“It’s a funny game,” Acta said with a wry smile. “That inning was a pretty good indication that these guys, they’re better than that.”
The Royals got a run back in the first on three straight hits, including Eric Hosmer’s single, but Billy Butler’s double-play grounder and Alex Gordon’s strikeout ended the threat.
Kansas City got two more in the fourth on a single by Gordon and a shot into the gap in right by Mike Moustakas, but he was left stranded when Humberto Quintero flied out.
Lowe and the Indians’ bullpen kept the Royals in check the rest of the way.
“We didn’t get off to the start we wanted,” Hosmer said, “but it’s a long season, and we haven’t played our best baseball yet.”
NOTES: Royals LHP Everett Teaford allowed one hit and a pair of walks in four innings of relief. ... LHP Jonathan Sanchez will make his first start at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night against Indians RHP Jeanmar Gomez. ... The Indians’ game against the White Sox that was rained out Tuesday will be made up May 7 as part of a doubleheader. ... The sellout crowd of 40,230 was the largest since April 2, 2007, against Boston.
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