April 16, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
35°F

Bats finally wake up: Indians pound out 22 hits, score 19 runs in romp over Astros

HOUSTON — In light of the Indians’ recent hitting slump — or even if the offense had been roaring along like Jeff Gordon’s Chevy — the numbers were shocking: 22 hits, seven doubles, three home runs, 14 runs and 23 batters in the first two innings and five RBIs by Jason Giambi.

These are Indians batsmen who compiled these statistics and buried the Astros 19-6 on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians scored 14 or more runs in the first two innings for only the fourth time in franchise history, most recently achieving the feat in 2009 against the Yankees in New York.

“Sometimes you don’t have an answer,” manager Terry Francona said of the outpouring of runs. “What we have to do now is get some consistency.”

• Giambi doubled home three runs and went deep with two runners on base to tie Cal Ripken Jr. for 42nd place all time with 431 homers.

• Nick Swisher doubled three times, singled once, drove in two runs and scored three.

• Mark Reynolds delivered a three-run homer, a single and amassed four RBIs.

• Carlos Santana homered, doubled, drove in two runs and scored three.

• Michael Brantley doubled, singled and had three RBIs.

• Drew Stubbs had three hits, one RBI and two runs.

• Mike Aviles, who didn’t start the game, had two hits, one RBI and scored two runs.

• Everyone in the starting lineup hit safely at least once and scored at least one run.

• The Indians scored more runs in the first two innings than they had in the previous five games combined (11).

Does this mean the club’s hitting slump is history? Nobody will know for sure until a few more games are played.

“We talked about it before the game,” Reynolds said. “Don’t press and have fun, and pass the torch to the next guy.”

So a good time was had by all of the Indians. Maybe even Scott Kazmir, who started a major league game for the first time since doing so April 3, 2011, for the Angels.

It has been a long road back for Kazmir, who spent most of the last few years trying to relearn his winning mechanics, which he lost somewhere along the way from Orange County to (minor league venues) Durham to Charlotte to Rancho Cucamonga to Salt Lake City.

Finally, last year in Sugarland, Texas, the site of an independent league team, Kazmir figured out what was wrong.

He didn’t exactly dazzle the Astros. And maybe that’s the way it should have been. He lasted 3⅓ innings, gave up six runs, seven hits and three walks, while striking out four.

“I was a little jittery. I definitely had some nerves going,” Kazmir said. “I never really got in the swing of things. I was almost pitching backwards. I wasn’t pitching off my fastball. I guess I was trying to trick them.

“I can’t do that, show them everything I have the first time around the lineup. That’s not what I need to do.”

It was obvious when he started the fourth inning he was tiring. His 91-92 mph fastball slowed to 88-89 as his pitch count rose into the high 80s.

“We got Kazmir right where we wanted to (in his pitch count),” Francona said. “But he was starting to get tired the last couple of batters.”

Under the circumstances, nothing more should have been expected of Kazmir. After building up his arm strength in spring training, he was forced onto the disabled list with a strained rib cage.

He made only one rehab start, throwing 75 pitches (finishing up in the bullpen) for Columbus.

He also had to wait an interminable length of time to pitch in the first and second innings Saturday night, while his teammates were embarrassing the Astros’ pitching staff.

“And he was sitting a lot,” Francona said. “He went down there and threw underneath in those long innings.”

The primary victim for the Astros was starter Phillip Humber, who threw a perfect game for the White Sox last year and tanked the rest of the season. He ended up in Houston after a waiver claim and pitched well in his first three starts (2.89 ERA) but was 0-3 because of lack of support.

Saturday night, he retired only one batter and gave up eight runs, eight hits and one walk.
Asdrubal Cabrera left the game after one inning because of a bruised left wrist.

“Just before the game, he slipped coming down the steps,” Francona said. “He was kind of sprawled out, and he broke his fall with his hand. We were scrambling. He said he was good to go, but when he batted right-handed, it bothered him.

“He’s feeling better, but I don’t think he’ll play (today).”

TODAY

• WHO: Cleveland vs. Houston
• TIME: 2:10 p.m.
• WHERE: Minute Maid Park, Houston
• PITCHERS: Jimenez (0-2, 11.25 ERA) vs. Bedard (0-1, 7.04)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM