Baseball's a funny game. The Indians, who entered Sunday's game averaging just 3.28 runs per game since the All-Star Break, exploded for 15 runs in four innings to salvage the finale of their three-game weekend set with the Royals. Every Indian in the starting lineup, except for Lou Marson, who drew three walks, had a hit. Every Indian except Casey Kotchman scored a run and everybody except Michael Brantley and Marson had a RBI in a 15-4 Tribe rout.
David Huff and Royals starter Jeff Odorizzi, making his Major League debut, both pitched terrific over the first five innings. The only blemish off of either starter was a third inning solo home run from Royals catcher Adam Moore, his first in the Majors since September 7, 2010. The Indians had just two hits off of Odorizzi and the Royals had just two hits and the one run.
The fun started with one out in the sixth. Jason Kipnis tripled to give the Tribe their first runner in scoring position for the game. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a RBI single to tie the game at one. Rattled by losing the shutout, Odorizzi served up a meatball to Carlos Santana who deposited it into the right field seats for a 3-1 Indians lead. After Michael Brantley singled, Odorizzi was replaced by Francisley Bueno, who extinguished the fire.
David Huff came back out and recorded two more outs, but left the game with runners on first and second as he reached his 85-pitch limit. Esmil Rogers came on and got out of the inning. Huff had an encouraging start, going 5.2 innings, allowing just the one run on three hits. He struck out one and walked one.
In the seventh, the Indians hung a crooked number thanks to some timely hitting and some Royal miscues. Everett Teaford started the inning by walking Lou Marson. After Choo grounded into a fielder's choice, Kipnis singled. On a double steal, the Royals catcher committed an error, allowing Choo to score and Kipnis to go to third. With Kipnis at third, Cabrera walked and Santana followed with a RBI single. Jeff Francoeur committed the Royals second error of the inning, allowing Cabrera to come all the way around from first. Brantley was intentionally walked and Kotchman singled in a run. Jack Hannahan singled home another Indian and Ezequiel Carrera capped off the scoring with a fielder's choice RBI. At 8-2, the Indians could have simply put it on cruise control. They didn't.
The Royals got three runs back off the Tribe bullpen. In the seventh, Tony Abreu drove in Francoeur with a sac fly. In the eighth, Billy Butler doubled in a run and Francoeur singled home Butler to make it an 8-4 game. The Indians wanted some insurance in the ninth. They got plenty of it.
Brantley led off the ninth with a double and moved to third on Kotchman's groundout. After Hannahan walked, Carrera followed with a RBI single. Marson walked to load the bases and Choo picked up his 57th RBI with a bases loaded walk that forced in a run. Kipnis hit into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded, plating another run. Cabrera drove in Marson with a single. Santana put the exclamation point on the game with a three-run bomb to right to make it a 15-4 game. Vinnie Pestano struck out two in a clean ninth inning to give the Indians the win.
With the win, the Indians assured themselves of not losing 100 games, improving to 63-90. The Royals took the series, but dropped the finale to fall to 70-82. David Huff picked up his second win of the season, while Jeff Odorizzi lost in his Major League debut.
Stat of the Night: The Indians scored seven runs in the ninth inning. Before today, they had scored seven or more runs in a game just 27 times.
Player of the Game: The entire offense. Everybody had a hand in the late-inning explosion.
Tomorrow's Game: The Indians get a chance to play spoiler, heading to Chicago for a three-game series. Zach McAllister will battle Chris Sale at 8:10.