Francisco Lindor was 3-for-4 at the plate with a homer and four runs batted in to back seven strong innings from Danny Salazar as the Cleveland Indians returned again to the .500 mark with a 5-1 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
Lindor’s early work in the game only further cemented his name as an American League Rookie of the Year candidate. He homered to the bleachers in left off of starter Danny Duffy in the first and followed it with a two-run single in the second as the Tribe put three up on the board. Lindor added his fourth run in three at bats with another single in the fourth. The three hits and four RBI both tied career highs. His first inning home run was the 100th hit of his young career.
Duffy would not make it out of the third, allowing four runs in his second bad start against the Indians this season. His teammates could not get through against Salazar, who allowed four of the Royals’ five hits on the night in winning his 13th game of the year.
The Indians are now 72-72 and gained on the Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, and Los Angeles Angels in the AL Wild Card race while putting another game of distance between themselves and both the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays. They have won 14 of their last 20 games to pull within four games of Houston for the second Wild Card spot and assured themselves at least a split with the Royals. Kansas City, meanwhile, is 5-10 in September.
W: D. Salazar (13-8)
L: D. Duffy (7-8)
HRs: F. Lindor (9, 1st inning off of Duffy, 0 on, 1 out), Mike Moustakas (19, 7th inning off of Salazar, 0 on, 0 out)
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak