Royals snap skid
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
CLEVELAND — Now the Kansas City Royals want to start a streak they can be proud of — a winning streak.
Billy Butler hit two of Kansas City’s four home runs to help the Royals snap a 12-game losing streak by beating the Cleveland Indians 8-2 on Wednesday night.
“A big win, we all felt it and now we want to go run with it,” Butler said. “There’s too much talent on this team to be losing.”
Butler’s two-run blast off Ubaldo Jimenez (2-1) put the Royals ahead in the first inning. He added a solo shot in the ninth off reliever Jairo Asencio, following Alex Gordon’s three-run homer against the reliever.
Eric Hosmer’s two-run homer in the fifth made it 4-0 — the Royals’ largest lead since April 8, when they beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-3.
“I’m just glad we did it,” manager Ned Yost said of ending the streak, which tied for the third-longest in team history, seven short of the Royals’ record worst in 2005.
“I didn’t care how we did it. It’s a big monkey off our back,” he said. “Now we can focus on day-to-day baseball.”
Before the game, Yost expressed confidence the Royals would start winning. He rattled off several instances of when he managed Milwaukee in 2003-08 and the Brewers followed a long losing streak with a number of wins.
“Fans have expectations of this team,” Yost said. “Well, these guys do, too. They have all been together as winners in the minors. This has been tough, but they are going to break out.”
The youngest team in the majors did it in a big way and got good pitching, too.
Luke Hochevar (2-1) allowed four hits and two runs over 61⁄3 innings, recovering from a horrendous home opener start April 13 when Cleveland battered him for seven runs in the first inning of an 8-3 loss.
The Royals went 0-10 on the homestand.
“A huge start by Hochevar, after they whacked him around pretty good last time,” Yost said.
Hochevar worked on a tender right ankle he hurt in his previous start. He appeared to stumble off the mound when he had to cover first base to retire the first batter he faced.
“I didn’t really tweak it, it’s just a little weak,” Hochevar said. “I can still make plays. I’ll be OK.”
Gordon had three hits, raising his average 30 points to .197. He fouled off several pitches in the ninth before connecting for his third homer.
In the fourth, Gordon reached on a one-out single when his grounder went between shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and second baseman Jason Kipnis, who both pulled up and appeared to think the other had it. One out later, Hosmer hit his fifth homer.
“It probably looked like Jason was closer to the ball, but that’s not what we preach around here,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “What we preach around here is you collide going after a ball. You don’t look at each other. We have ice. We have a training staff. You don’t look at each other and let a ball drop. Unfortunately, that cost us.”
Cleveland loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on a single and two walks. Hosmer made a diving stop of a sharp grounder by Travis Hafner and threw to second for a force as a run scored to make it 4-1.
Hochevar left after walking Kipnis with one out in the seventh.
Tommy Hottovy, called up from Triple-A Omaha, promptly hit Casey Kotchman, who was in an 0-for-21 slump, with his first pitch. Aaron Cunningham followed with a single up the middle to score Kipnis, cutting the Royals’ lead to 4-2.
Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo sat out with a tight left hamstring. Choo is a .600 hitter (15-of-25) with 12 RBI in his career against Hochevar. He isn’t expected to go to the disabled list.
Jimenez gave up six hits and four runs over six innings.
Notes: Kansas City snapped a 12-game losing streak in 2008 against the Indians with a home win. ... Royals OF Lorenzo Cain, out since April 11 with a strained left groin, returned to Kansas City after hurting his hip while on a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha. ... RHP Jeremy Jeffress was optioned to Omaha when the Royals added Hottovy. ... Acta said Choo’s injury will not affect the timetable for OF Johnny Damon, who signed last week and is at the Indians’ training complex in Goodyear, Ariz. The 38-year-old is expected to join Cleveland in early May. ... Indians OF Grady Sizemore, who had back surgery March 1, ran in the outfield and played catch during pregame. He is scheduled to hit off a batting tee this weekend.
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