KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The party that started when the Indians arrived at Kauffman Stadium ground to a halt when Corey Kluber winced while covering first base in the sixth inning against Kansas City on Friday night.
It turned out to be merely a blip in the soundtrack.
Kluber escaped with a minor sprain of his right ankle, an injury that manager Terry Francona hoped will not cause him to miss a start. And considering the offense that the Indians piled up in a 10-1 rout of the Royals, just about anybody could have been on the mound and been successful.
Jay Bruce hit a pair of homers and had five RBIs, while Jason Kipnis and Edwin Encarnacion also went deep, as the Indians piled up 13 hits in pushing their AL Central lead to 6 1/2 games.
“I just feel like I added to an already good lineup,” said Bruce, who has gone deep three times since his trade from the Mets. “But these guys were already good before I got here.”
Especially the guy on the hill Friday night.
“I’ve been on the other side of that too many times. He anchors this thing for us,” Bruce said of Kluber. “We feel pretty damn good when he’s on the mound.”
Kluber (12-3) was cruising along until there was one out in the sixth inning, and Eric Hosmer sent a grounder to the right side of the infield. Kluber winced coming off the mound to cover the bag, and manager Terry Francona and the team’s training staff quickly jogged out to the mound.
The two-time All-Star faced one more batter before Andrew Miller relieved him. Kluber allowed a homer to Brandon Moss along with five more hits, striking out four and walking one.
“It’s a low ankle sprain and on the mild side. It’s not the dreaded high ankle sprain that you hear with NFL guys,” said Indians manager Terry Francona, who had a DJ and arcade game waiting for his team in a festive visiting clubhouse to boost their morale during a long road trip.
Kipnis and Bruce homered in the first off Ian Kennedy (4-9), and Bruce added a three-run shot in the seventh to finish with five RBIs. Encarnacion added his homer leading off the ninth.
“They were better than us tonight. You can live with that,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’ll come back tomorrow and play again. This game wasn’t a good one for us. It just happens.”
Kennedy was pounded for five runs on six hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings in another forgettable night at Kauffman Stadium. It was his 15th straight winless home start dating to August 2016, breaking the Royals’ franchise record held by Mac Suzuki and Glendon Rusch.
The AL Central-leading Indians were coming off a double-header in Minnesota on Thursday night, while the chasing Royals had the day off. But it was Cleveland that looked energized in the first of 10 remaining matchups between teams that have dominated the division.
The Indians scored three times in the first inning, gave back a run on Moss’ deep shot to center in the second, then scratched out two more runs in the third to chase Kennedy.
It was Kennedy’s shortest start since going two innings at Minnesota in May.
“It was like one of those games where you’re warming up and hopefully you can get the Adrenaline going and body going a little quicker when the game starts, but it didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t have the fastball. I didn’t have the bite on my breaking balls. It was just a bad game.”
STATS AND STREAKS
Kluber’s streak of 14 straight starts with at least eight strikeouts ended one shy of Randy Johnson’s big league record. … Kluber is 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last eight starts. … Kipnis has homered three times in his last four games. … Bruce has 32 homers, two shy of his career high. … The Royals have lost 13 of 20 since a nine-game winning streak. … Moss’s homer snapped a 0-for-14 skid.
Indians OF Abraham Almonte went on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, creating room for Miller to return from the DL. He had been out with right knee tendinitis.
Royals RHP Joakim Soria was placed on the DL with a left oblique strain and RHP Kevin McCarthy was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take his place. Soria has a 3.96 ERA in 53 appearances.
Indians 3B Jose Ramirez got the night off after getting hit on the forearm Thursday in Minnesota. X-rays were negative and Francona expects him to play Saturday night.
Royals C Salvador Perez (right intercostal strain) took batting practice and did fielding drills before the game, and Yost said he could return next week. He’s been on the DL since Aug. 5.
LHP Jason Vargas (14-6) goes for his career-best 15th win as the Royals continue their series with the Indians. Cleveland counters with RHP Trevor Bauer, who pitched in relief Thursday night.
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