Offense Lifts Off in Houston; Indians 19, Astros 6

The old adage goes that offense sometimes comes in bunches. The Indians found a bunch of bunches on Saturday night.

Cleveland had been struggling to hit with runners in scoring position, but Saturday they were 11-for-22, generating 19 runs of offense on their way to a 19-6 rout. The Tribe controlled the game from the onset, forcing Philip Humber from the game after only one out. The Indians Scott Kazmir was less than stellar in his first game back in the big leagues after two seasons.

The Indians jumped on Humber almost immediately in the top of the first inning. After Michael Brantley lined out to deep, left center field, Jason Kipnis singled to right field and Asdrubal Cabrera singled to left field to set the table with runners on the corners for Nick Swisher. Swisher doubled to left field scoring both runners and giving the Indians an early 2-0 lead. It was just the beginning of the onslaught.

Jason Giambi followed with a double off the base of the right field wall to score Swisher, making the score 3-0. After Carlos Santana walked, Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer to left field, extending the lead to 6-0. It was Reynolds’ sixth home run of the season.

The hits didn’t stop, however. Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a double down the right field line and Drew Stubbs reached on an infield hit. Still with only one out, Michael Brantley doubled to center field to score Chisenhall and Stubbs to make the score 8-0 in the top of the first and complete the early damage.

It was the end of the evening for Humber (0-4), who recorded only an out, while giving up eight hits, eight runs—all earned—and walking one. He was relieved by Dallas Keuchel, who retired more than an out in the game, but not with much better results.

The Tribe tacked on six more runs in the top of the second inning off Keuchel. Reynolds, Stubbs, Brantley, Mike Aviles and Swisher each had runs batted in during the second inning. Aviles replaced Cabrera after only an inning when he left the game with a left wrist contusion and is listed as day-to-day.

Meanwhile, Kazmir had some bumps of his own in his first Major League start in over two seasons. After a scoreless first inning, and being spotted 14 runs, he allowed three to the Astros in the bottom of the second inning. Carlos Pena doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. After Carlos Corporan struck out swinging, Ronny Cedeno grounded out to shortstop to plate Houston’s first run of the game. After Matt Dominguez walked, Brandon Barnes hit his first home run of the season to right field to make the game 14-3 Cleveland.

Santana continued to pad the Indians lead with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the third inning. It was his third home run of the season. Kazmir, however, could not settle down and allowed three more runs in the bottom of the third inning, including a solo home run to Brandon Laird.

After battling back from mechanical issues over the last two years, and an early season rib cage injury, the Indians were very cautious with Kazmir in his first appearance of the season. He was limited to 89 pitches in the game, but was only able to survive 3.1 innings, allowing seven hits, six runs, walking three and striking out four and giving up two home runs. The start was not what Kazmir was hoping for in his comeback, but also his homecoming. He is a resident of Houston and had friends and family in the crowd.

Cleveland tallied three more runs in the top of the fourth inning when Giambi hit a three-run home run. It was Giambi’s second home run of the season, but a home run in the 31st ballpark of his career. The Astros were the only team he had never homered against. His bomb to right field made the score 18-6. The Tribe would tally another run in the fifth inning when Santana doubled home Aviles to make the score 19-6.

Bryan Shaw worked the next 1.2 innings in relief of Kazmir, allowing no runs and only a hit while striking out two. He gave way to Corey Kluber (1-0) who pitched the final four innings, allowing only two hits and striking out two. With Brett Myers returning home to Cleveland to have his right elbow examined, Kluber may have pitched his way into the rotation.

Despite the offense going silent after the fifth inning, however, the production captivated the evening. Swisher had four hits, including three doubles and driving in two, while Giambi drove in five runs and Reynolds drove in four of his own. The Indians pounded out 22 hits.

Tomorrow the Indians will try to win the series with Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2, 11.25 ERA) on the mound against Houston’s Erik Bedard (0-1, 7.04 ERA). Game time is scheduled for 2:10 p.m.

Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images

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