The Cleveland Indians came out swinging in Sandy Alomar‘s managerial debut Friday night against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Alomar, who was named interim manager for the remainder of the season after Manny Acta was fired Thursday, watched Cord Phelps, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Ezequiel Carrera collect three hits apiece and the Indians tally 16 hits as a team on their way to a 8-5 victory.
David Huff pitched six strong innings to pick up the win and improve to 3-0 (2.86). The 28-year-old lefty gave up three runs on eight hits while striking out five and walking none in his third start of the season.
The Royals struck first, scoring a run in the second on an Adam Moore RBI double, but the Indians battled back with three in the second, one in the third, and two in the fourth, chasing Kansas City starter Will Smith. After Casey Kotchman lined out to begin the bottom of the second, the Indians smacked five straight hits including a double by Shin-Shoo Choo to go in front 3-1.
In the third, a Lonnie Chisenhall RBI double extended the Tribe’s lead to 4-1.
The bats remained hot in the fourth. After Ezequiel Carrera led off the inning with a single, Shin-Soo Choo roped his second double of the game (42nd of the year) off the center field wall to score Carrera and end Smith’s night. Everett Teaford relieved Smith to face Cord Phelps, who welcomed Teaford to the game with a single to left moving Choo to third. Jason Kipnis then hit into a fielder’s choice to score Choo and bump the lead to 6-1. Teaford retired the next three batters to avoid further any damage.
After Adam Moore’s RBI double in the second, David Huff settled down and had his way with the Kansas City lineup, retiring nine in a row before giving up a single to Johnny Giavotella in the fifth.
The Indians loaded the bases to start their half of the fifth and Giavotella nearly single-handedly ended the inning with two great plays. With the bases juiced, Choo hit a sharp grounder to second that Giavotella fielded and fired home for the force out. On the next pitch, Cord Phelps smacked a line drive that looked like a run-scoring gapper, but the 5’8 Giavotella leaped full extension to make a web gem grab, then dove head-first to tap second for the double play, but a sliding Carrera made it back just in time. Carrera’s heads up base running kept the inning alive for Jason Kipnis, who followed with a single to left to score Carrera and Lillibridge and give the Indians an 8-1 lead. Kipnis finished the game with three RBIs.
The Royals cut the Tribe’s lead to 8-3 in the sixth by way of a Billy Butler 2-run homerun. Huff redeemed himself to finish the inning before giving way to Cody Allen. Allen pitched a scoreless seventh and was replaced by Scott Maine in the eighth. Maine gave up a hit to each batter he faced, including a two-run single to Salvador Perez. Joe Smith relieved Maine and finished the eighth to pave the way for Chris Perez to work the ninth for his 39th save.
Game two of this three game series is scheduled for Saturday at 7:05pm ET on SportsTime Ohio or the Indians Radio Network. Jeanmar Gomez (5-8, 5.54) will take the rubber for the Indians against Kansas City’s top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 5.06). The rookie right-hander was acquired by the Royals in December 2010 in the trade that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee.
Jason Kipnis stole his 31st base in the first inning. Kipnis is just the 4th Indian over the last 25 years (1988-2012) to collect at least 10 homers, 70 RBI, 80 runs, and 30 stolen bases in the same season, joining Roberto Alomar (1999-2001), Kenny Lofton (2000) and Grady Sizemore (2007-08).
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