Indians' offense breaks out in big way
CLEVELAND -- Michael Brantley took a moment to admire his shot. The Indians left fielder held his bat firmly in his right hand, watched the baseball disappear into the right-field stands and slowly walked out of the batter's box. This blast served as a bit of payback.
Cleveland had already been punched in the gut plenty over the past several days. In Wednesday's 12-1 win over the Royals, the Tribe's hitters were also hit in the back a few times by Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie. Indians manager Terry Francona responded with an on-field argument that led to an ejection. The lineup answered with a season-high four homers in a much-needed skid-stopping victory.
"We feel like we answered in a big way," Indians outfielder Michael Bourn said. "That's how you answer. You make them pay for it."
Brantley's blast provided the punctuation for a six-run outburst in the sixth inning against Guthrie, who also gave up a solo home run to rookie third baseman Giovanny Urshela and a three-run shot to rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor in the same frame. For good measure, Yan Gomes -- one of Guthrie's three hit batsmen on the afternoon -- launched a towering solo blast to left field in the Tribe's four-run eighth.
The 12-run outpouring came after Cleveland (46-54) scored 10 runs total in its previous six games, which were all defeats. Each member of the Indians' starting lineup registered at least one hit and one run, helping the team snap its eight-game losing streak at home (longest in Progressive Field history). Bourn tied a career best with four hits, Jason Kipnis had three hits and Lindor drove in four runs.
Meanwhile, ace Corey Kluber used the wealth of support to cruise to a complete-game win.
This kind of victory went a long way for the struggling Tribe.
"I think we needed it on a number of fronts," Francona said. "We needed that. That'll help us."
Not that the Indians needed motivation to pull themselves out of the recent funk, but Guthrie fueled an already frustrated team by hitting three batters.
Gomes was hit in the first inning with the bases loaded to force in a run and Kipnis wore a pitch in the second inning, too. After Kipnis was hit in the backside, the second baseman had some words for the pitcher and angrily flipped his gear away before taking his base. At that point, home-plate umpire Tom Woodring issued warnings to both teams, but Guthrie's control wavered again in the fifth, when he hit Brantley.
When Guthrie was not ejected, Francona took the field and was promptly tossed by Woodring.
"Tito going out there and sticking up for us," Lindor said, "that shows he has our back, so we want to have his back, and we worked hard to try to make things happen."
Scoring 10 runs in the final three innings worked.
"We needed a day like today," Francona said. "We've got a long flight [to the West Coast] today. It'll be a heck of a lot better flight coming off a game like this. Now, we need to carry it over into tomorrow."