KANSAS CITY -- It was the Francisco Lindor show on Monday night.The Indians' shortstop blasted two homers -- including a grand slam -- for a career-high seven RBIs in a 9-3 victory over the Royals in the series opener at Kauffman Stadium.Lindor's home runs came off breaking balls from Royals
KANSAS CITY -- It was the Francisco Lindor show on Monday night.
The Indians' shortstop blasted two homers -- including a grand slam -- for a career-high seven RBIs in a 9-3 victory over the Royals in the series opener at Kauffman Stadium.
Lindor's home runs came off breaking balls from Royals starter Jakob Junis, and both came scorching off the bat.
• Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
"The one at-bat, he got it in a hitter's count, the other at-bat, he fouled off some good fastballs, got to the breaking ball and man, just drove both of them," said Terry Francona, who picked up his 500th win as the Indians' skipper. "They weren't the lofted -- they were line drives that he just hit over the fence. That's a gorgeous piece of hitting."
Tribe right-hander Corey Kluber allowed two runs in the first, including a leadoff homer by Whit Merrifield. After that, however, he settled in for six solid innings and his 12th win of the season. He allowed seven hits and three runs.
"He fell behind Merrifield, he hit a home run. Then, he gave up the second run," Francona said. "After that, he just kind of pitched to the scoreboard."
The difference, according to Kluber, was getting better control on counts. Merrifield's homer came after he got ahead, 2-0, and Salvador Perez's RBI single later in the frame came after he battled for an 11-pitch at-bat.
"Today what hurt me was falling behind, or getting too deep in at-bats in the first inning," Kluber said.
After Junis allowed a single and hit two batters to load the bases in the fourth, Lindor deposited a 3-1 changeup from the right-hander into the right-field bullpen to give the Tribe a 6-2 lead. Statcast™ projected the homer to travel 409 feet with an exit velocity of 108.1 mph. Of his 83 career homers, only three have come off the bat faster.
It was Lindor's second career grand slam and his first since April 5, 2017.
Lindor went yard again in the sixth -- a three-run shot to right that chased Junis from the ballgame and made it a 9-2 lead. The second homer left Lindor's bat at 105 mph, according to Statcast™, and traveled a projected 418 feet.
"I love home runs, don't get me wrong," Lindor said. "When I see the ball go over the fence, it's great. But I'm not trying. My job is to move guys, to get on base, to score, drive the ball. If it goes out, it goes out. I'm not trying to hit home runs. I'm not trying. That's when I go on an 0-for-35 slump, so trying to stay away from that."
Lindor now has four multi-homer games this season and six in his career. His 17 career homers against the Royals are his most against any club. His seven RBIs are the most by any Indians batter since Brandon Moss had seven against the Tigers on April 24, 2015.
Kluber's performance was a needed return to form for the former AL Cy Young Award winner, as he surrendered six runs in just 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday against the Cardinals in the shortest start of his career.
Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion picked up Kluber with sacrifice flies off Junis in the third inning to make it 2-2.
CHISENHALL HEADED TO DL
Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall was scratched shortly before game time with a left calf strain. An MRI determined it to be a "moderate strain."
"He's a definite DL," Francona said. "We'll know more in the next few days."
Chisenhall missed more than a month earlier this season with the same injury in his right calf. He was hitting .343 since returning to the lineup at the beginning of June.
Lindor is just the fourth Indians hitter to hit a grand slam and a three-run homer in the same game -- joining Manny Ramirez (1999), Vic Wertz (1957) and Pat Seerey (1945).
Lindor and Chico Carrasquel (April 26, 1956, against the Kansas City Athletics) are the only Cleveland shortstops since 1908 to log at least seven RBIs in a game.
HE SAID IT
"If somebody gave me $154 million, I'd probably go somewhere too. Everybody, I've seen all the quotes -- he did what he said he was gonna do, got them a championship. When you're a free agent, you've earned that right. I will miss it, because I loved going to games when he played because it was fun. It's hard to begrudge somebody. He earned it." -- Francona, on NBA star LeBron James leaving the city's Cavaliers to play for the Los Angeles Lakers
Indians right-hander Shane Bieber (3-0, 2.22 ERA) starts the middle game of this series against the Royals at 8:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. In three starts since returning from Triple-A, the rookie is 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. Lefty Danny Duffy (4-7, 4.94 ERA) will start for Kansas City.
Jordan Wolf is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.