CLEVELAND -- When Andrew Miller entered in the seventh inning of the Indians' matchup against the Royals on Friday night, he looked to be his normal, untouchable self. After issuing a leadoff walk to Jonathan Jay, Miller responded by striking out Jorge Soler and Mike Moustakas.Enter Salvador Perez.The All-Star catcher
CLEVELAND -- When Andrew Miller entered in the seventh inning of the Indians' matchup against the Royals on Friday night, he looked to be his normal, untouchable self. After issuing a leadoff walk to Jonathan Jay, Miller responded by striking out Jorge Soler and Mike Moustakas.
Enter Salvador Perez.
The All-Star catcher added another chapter to his heralded Royals career with a two-out two-run home run off Miller, the deciding runs in a 10-9 victory in the series opener at Progressive Field.
"It was a tough pitcher and that was a big hit there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We had some big at-bats. Jay's [at-bat in the third]. Lucas Duda having three hits. There were a lot of guys swinging the bat well."
"Just reaction," Perez said of the home run. "I was looking for his fastball and it was down and away. I was looking for the fastball and I hit it pretty good."
Not only did Perez's home run put the Royals ahead for good, it also helped them overcome another rough outing by a starting pitcher. Right-hander Jason Hammel gave up nine runs over 3 2/3 innings, and his outing was punctuated with a grand slam by Michael Brantley on the final pitch he threw.
"We stayed after it trying to put together good at-bats when we were down," Yost said. "[Brad Keller] came in and held the fort with three tough innings. Gave us a chance to hold where we were and then take the lead."
Relievers Tim Hill, Burch Smith, Keller and Kelvin Herrera combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Keller (1-0) was arguably the most impressive, scattering two hits over three scoreless innings to pick up his first Major League win.
"Our plan was to send him out there for two innings and see where we were," Yost said of Keller. "After the second inning we could see that his four-seamer had a lot of life and action to it. We felt good about sending him out for a third inning."
For Keller, it was an outing in which everything was working.
"I felt like I had command of all my pitches," he said. "Changeup was good, slider was good, just tried to attack them with my fastball."
Duda and Alcides Escobar helped chip away at the Indians' lead. Escobar drove in runs in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings -- matching a career-high four RBIs -- while Duda hit three doubles, one of which drove in Moustakas in a three-run sixth inning.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer had a rough outing as well, allowing five runs over 4 2/3 innings in his worst start of the year. Yonder Alonso and Jose Ramirez both hit home runs in the first inning, while a two-run double by Tyler Naquin and Brantley's slam accounted for the Indians' scoring in the fourth.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Early offense: The Royals found themselves in a 3-0 hole after the first inning, but that deficit was short-lived thanks to Jay. Two batters after Escobar's RBI single, Jay ripped a two-out two-run double down the left-field line to tie the game.
Duda's three doubles matched a career high he originally set on June 25, 2011, against the Rangers. The starting pitcher in that game was current Indians pitcher Alexi Ogando.
Perez's home run was not only clutch, but it also broke a scoreless streak for Miller. It was the first time Miller gave up a run to an American League Central opponent since he joined the Indians in July 2016.
HE SAID IT
"My execution wasn't very good today. I was up in the zone, I tried to overthrow and got outside of myself. Just a [lousy] effort, unacceptable. We'll forget about it and move on." -- Hammel, on his outing
"I had a big beer shower in [the locker room]. They took me in the bathroom with baby powder and soap, the whole nine yards. I couldn't see for like 10 minutes, so that was cool." -- Keller, on celebrating his first win
Royals right-hander Jakob Junis (4-2, 3.18 ERA) will make the start at 3:10 p.m. CT on Saturday in the middle game of the series at Progressive Field. Mike Clevinger (2-0, 2.76) will start for the Tribe. Junis went 7-plus strong innings and matched a career-high eight strikeouts last time out against the Tigers on Sunday.
Henry Palattella is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cleveland.