KANSAS CITY -- Melky Cabrera sent a pitch to right field in the sixth inning on Sunday and there were noticeable cheers coming from the stands behind the visitors' dugout at Kauffman Stadium. As the Indians' right fielder stopped at first, he scanned the seats and waved to the four
KANSAS CITY -- Melky Cabrera sent a pitch to right field in the sixth inning on Sunday and there were noticeable cheers coming from the stands behind the visitors' dugout at Kauffman Stadium. As the Indians' right fielder stopped at first, he scanned the seats and waved to the four fans clad in all-white suits.
The Melk Man had delivered and the Melk Men were thrilled.
In a 12-5 victory over the Royals, Cabrera was in the middle of multiple rallies, helping the lower rung of the Tribe's lineup carry the load in the finale of a seven-game road trip. Wearing the nickname "Melk Man" on his back for Players' Weekend, the outfielder delivered an RBI single in the fourth, scored four runs and reached base five times.
• Shop Players' Weekend gear
"It was a lot of fun," Cabrera said through team interpreter Will Clements. "I said 'hello' to them, and I threw them a ball. It was really funny."
:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::
Cabrera's run-scoring hit in the fourth ignited a five-run outburst in the inning, which was the last for Royals starter Jorge Lopez (Lopie). Beyond Cabrera, Cleveland also received a four-hit showing from Jason Kipnis (Dirtbag) -- featuring an inside-the-park homer -- and a two-run double off the bat of rookie Greg Allen (G-Rag). Eight of the 12 runs scored were by the Tribe's Nos. 6-9 hitters.
Francisco Lindor (Mr. Smile) and Edwin Encarnacion (Rivera) also did their part with a two-run single and two-run home run, respectively.
"It was a tough trip for … a lot of guys, really, [especially] the top of our order," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But, again, those guys are good enough. They're going to be OK. The day off [on Monday] will help them a bunch."
The production from the bottom helped overcome the three home runs surrendered by Tribe right-hander Shane "Not Justin" Bieber. Whit Merrifield (Whitley), Salvador Perez (El Nino) and Lucas Duda (Dude) each went deep off Bieber, who was charged with four runs in 5 1/3 innings, in which he struck out seven and walked none.
"I thought there was more good than bad, but the bad happened to be big plays," Bieber said. "Fortunately, the offense picked me up and provided me with plenty of support early. I was able to go out there, flood the zone and compete."
The surplus of support by the American League Central-leading Indians (74-56) came after the club managed just nine runs total over its previous four games (all losses) combined. Cleveland is now tied with the Cubs and Red Sox for the most games (16) in MLB this season with at least 10 runs scored.
"It definitely wasn't easy. To go on a road trip and lose four games, that's not fun," Cabrera said. "But, it was nice to end with a win, but we really have to keep working. We have a month left to play, so we have to keep working and I just want to be able to help the team."
Kipnis said he laughed when he spotted the Melk Man's fans behind the Tribe's dugout.
"I saw them. That's cool," Kipnis said. "When you've been around for that long and have guys like that still coming around, that's pretty fun."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Dirtbag delivers: Following a walk by Cabrera in the ninth, Kipnis pulled a pitch from Royals reliever Brandon Maurer off the wall down the right-field line. The baseball kicked back into the outfield past right fielder Alex Gordon, paving the way for a two-run, inside-the-park home run. Kipnis made it from home-to-home in 16.93 seconds, per Statcast™, on what was his 100th career homer.
"In a rough patch, it's something I can step back and smile about," Kipnis said of the career milestone. "It kind of reassures me a little bit more that, hey, you've been here for a while. You've done some things in this game. Have some confidence. You're better than you're giving yourself credit for and you should be going up there and playing with a little more confidence than you have been."
Kipnis was 1-for-17 on the current road trip and 2-for-31 over his past 10 games entering Sunday's finale in Kansas City. The second baseman ended the afternoon with two singles, a double, the home run, three runs scored, four RBIs and a stolen base.
Mr. Smile breaks through: Heading into his sixth-inning at-bat, Lindor was 4-for-29 (.138) on the current road trip. With runners on second and third and two outs, the Tribe shortstop pulled a pitch into right field for a two-run single, pushing the Indians out front, 7-2. That ended an 0-for-11 drought for Lindor and helped Cleveland pull away with the win.
The victory allowed the Indians to avoid what would have been a season-high five-game losing streak. In fact, Cleveland has not lost more than four games in a row in more than three years. The last time the club dropped at least five straight was during a six-game skid from July 23-28, 2015.
HE SAID IT
"I had a good night of film watching [Saturday] night. I kind of watched a lot of 2016 and just where my hands were and try to get that feeling back. I was in my bedroom with a magazine rolled up as a bat like [Roger] Maris in '61 or something like that. But, I was excited coming in today, because I thought I found something." -- Kipnis
"He swung the bat very well. Man, I'll tell you, what a lift that would give us, because we've seen him do it. And he's shown periods [of getting hot]. Man, if he can get hot like that, oh my goodness, that would help us." -- Francona, on Kipnis
Following a team off-day on Monday, righty Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.55 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game set with the Twins at Progressive Field. Carrasco lasted 3 2/3 innings in his last start in Boston, but he had a 2.00 ERA in his previous 12 appearances. Carrasco is 1-3 with a 4.56 ERA in five starts vs. Minnesota this year. The Twins will counter with righty Kyle Gibson (7-10, 3.63).
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.