September 16, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
63°F

Indians battle, win without three stars

CLEVELAND — The Indians honored the veterans prior to a Memorial Day affair at Progressive Field, then they went out and showed plenty of fight without a number of their field generals.

With the heart of the lineup — Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner and Carlos Santana — sidelined by injuries, Cleveland’s offense continued to produce anyway, leading an 8-5 victory Monday over the Royals in the series opener.

Despite being without their usual 3-4-5 hitters the past three games, the Indians have scored 21 runs.

The victory over the Royals snapped a three-game skid. Cleveland, which was swept in a weekend series against the White Sox in Chicago, still leads the Central Division by a half-game over the Sox.

“You can’t replace the guys we’ve lost, but we’re doing what we can to put up runs,” said second baseman Jason Kipnis, who produced his fourth straight multihit game, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. “No one goes into the game thinking that we’re at a disadvantage or that we’re going to lose this game because we don’t have those guys in the lineup. We just need to battle and have the right approach at the plate and I think we can still win.”

“You’ve got to give it to these guys, man,” manager Manny Acta said. “They’ll fight. They’re putting quality at-bats together. It’s always good for guys to step up and play as a team and cover up (for the injuries).”

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It was a triumphant return from the disabled list for right-hander Josh Tomlin. He got the win after allowing four runs on four hits (two home runs) over five innings.

Tomlin allowed Kansas City to take the lead on a two-run homer from Eric Hosmer in the second, then allowed two more runs in his final inning.

“I felt fine,” said Tomlin, who had not pitched since May 7 with a right wrist injury. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been out there in a game situation like that so adrenaline kind of got the best of me in the later innings.”

Tomlin was the beneficiary of a five-run third inning from an offense that was ignited by none other than prized prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. He was promoted from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game and hit a solo homer to right in his first big league at-bat of the year.

“What a beautiful swing, huh?” Acta said of Chisenhall, who was the designated hitter. “This kid just got a beautiful swing. That was nice to get us on the board right away.

“He’s going to play. I’ll find at-bats for him. He’s going to play third base and DH. He’s going to get at-bats. Right now, with the way our lineup is, he can make some contribution.”

“It’s just nice to be back,” Chisenhall said. “To have a pretty good day offensively just adds to it. I feel good in the box now.”

Kansas City pulled within a run in the seventh, but the Indians answered with two in the bottom of the inning before turning it over to the reliable relief twosome of setup man Vinnie Pestano and closer Chris Perez, who preserved the three-run advantage.

Perez recorded his 17th straight save since Opening Day and showed his fiery personality by waving his hand in front of his face — a la WWE star John Cena — after striking out Jarrod Dyson on three pitches for the second out.

“With all the crap that I’ve been talking, I’ve got to back it up,” Perez said. “Really, if you take away Opening Day, I’ve been pretty good. I’ve been back to my normal self.”

The Indians didn’t let the disappointing sweep in Chicago linger long. Beating the Royals enabled them to avoid their first four-game skid of the season.

“I’m glad that we cut off the losing streak,” Acta said. “It’s very important to me that you don’t let it get extended. You cut it off at three at the most and get going from there.

“These guys do a pretty good job of putting things behind them pretty quick.”

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.