CLEVELAND – Manny Acta is fond of telling people that baseball is the greatest game in the world because, according to the Indians manager, anything can happen on any given night.
Anything such as the offensively challenged Indians beating up on reigning American League Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke.
That was the surprising scenario that played out Saturday night at Progressive Field, with Cleveland throttling Greinke and the Royals 7-1 to pull a half-game in front of Kansas City and out of the Central Division cellar.
“We swung the bat well,” Acta said of his club, which has ranked at the bottom of the league in the majority of offensive statistics for the bulk of the season. “We were able to get to their best guy, one of the best pitchers in the game. Just about everybody contributed offensively for us.”
Greinke entered the night with a personal five-game winning streak against the Indians, winning two of his three starts this season, while allowing no more than three runs.
It appeared Cleveland was in for more of the same from KC’s ace, who struck out four of the first seven batters he faced, but the Indians turned the tables after the second inning.
The Indians scored three times off Greinke in the third, then chased him from the game with four in the fourth. In all, the right-hander allowed seven runs on 11 hits over 32/3 innings.
“(Greinke) was throwing a lot of strikes early,” said Indians center fielder Trevor Crowe, who had one of Cleveland’s RBIs in the big fourth inning. “I think he just started to make a couple mistakes and we got on a roll.”
“The guys didn’t change their approach,” Acta said. “They didn’t try to do too much against him and it worked.”
It was the most runs the Indians have ever scored off Greinke in his 27 career appearances (22 starts) against them. Of their six doubles on the night, five came off Greinke.
It was a virtual offensive explosion from the Indians, who got hits from everyone in the lineup except cleanup hitter Travis Hafner.
The Indians got multihit games from four players – Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Jordan Brown and Luis Valbuena – Choo leading the way with a 4-for-5 performance that included a double and two RBIs.
Cleveland also pitched well, starter Jeanmar Gomez working a brief but effective outing, allowing just a run on six hits over five innings to snap a personal five-game losing skid and win for the first time since Aug. 1.
“He had to labor through five innings but he did a very good job of pitching around those jams he got himself into,” Acta said.
“I tried to forget about (the losing streak),” Gomez said. “I’ve been working on my change-up and slider. Both of them were good.”
It might have been Gomez’s final appearance, with the right-hander nearing his innings limit at 1732/3 between Triple-A Columbus and Cleveland. He is 4-5 with a 4.68 ERA in 11 starts for the Indians.
Though he wouldn’t confirm as much, Acta sounded as though Gomez would be shut down for the season. Gomez said he expected to pitch again, starting in the opener of a three-game season-ending series in Chicago on Friday.
With Gomez in the dugout, a foursome of relievers – Aaron Laffey, Joe Smith, Justin Masterson and Jensen Lewis – finished off the Royals in style.
Kansas City produced just one baserunner over the final four innings, Wilson Betemit, who was hit by a pitch from Masterson to lead off the eighth.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• WHO: Cleveland vs. Kansas City
• TIME: 1:05 p.m.
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Carmona (12-14, 3.79 ERA) vs. Chen (11-7, 4.69)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM