CLEVELAND — It wasn’t a complete wash for the Indians in their series finale with the Mets on Sunday at Progressive Field.
Cleveland dropped a 2-1 decision that deprived the Indians of completing a three-game interleague sweep, but beloved veteran slugger Jason Giambi was able to reach a career milestone with his 2,000th hit.
Giambi, 42, started at designated hitter and was 0-for-2 before dropping a single into left field off veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins in the ninth inning — his big hit coming in his 19th season in the majors.
“What an incredible journey to get to here, all the time and things I’ve gone through to get that hit,” said Giambi, a five-time all-star and 2000 American League MVP who has 403 career home runs. “I think the thing that’s going to be the most special is who I got it off of, LaTroy, who I have the utmost respect for as a player and a human being. That’s going to mean more to me and my career than that hit, for sure.
“We didn’t get the win, but it’s an exciting day, still. It feels like 4,000 (hits), but I’ll definitely take it. I’ll treasure it for sure.”
Giambi played against Hawkins, also a 19-year veteran, and was his teammate in 2008 with the Yankees.
This is expected to be Giambi’s final season, but he was still asked if he would entertain the thought of 3,000 hits.
“I don’t know. I’ll have a walker by then,” he said.
Michael Brantley missed his third straight game after leaving the team Friday for Florida to be with his wife Melissa, who gave birth to the couple’s first child Saturday night — a baby girl.
Brantley, who is hitting just .218
(12-for-55) with one RBI over his last 15 games, is expected to return to the lineup tonight.
Manager Terry Francona said Justin Masterson (strained left oblique) would accompany the team Thursday when it begins its upcoming road trip, which is also when the right-hander will pick up a baseball for the first time since being injured.
Masterson, who will miss at least one start and likely more, has been receiving treatment since sustaining the injury last Monday.
The Indians continue the homestand with a three-game series against Central Division and wild-card rival Kansas City that begins tonight at 7:05.
Ubaldo Jimenez (10-9, 3.79 ERA) opens the set for Cleveland, opposing RHP Ervin Santana (8-8, 3.33), while Zach McAllister (7-8, 3.97) starts for the Indians on Tuesday (7:05 p.m.) against RHP Jeremy Guthrie (13-10, 4.19).
Scott Kazmir (8-7, 4.17) goes for the Indians in the series finale Wednesday (12:05 p.m.), while the Royals counter with RHP James Shields (10-8, 3.43).
KC, which was three games back in the wild-card race through Saturday, has been helped by a pitching staff that entered Sunday leading the American League with a 3.05 ERA since the All-Star break. Cleveland was second with a 3.30 ERA.
The Indians have handled the Royals at home, going 5-1, and are 8-5 against them overall.
“We know we can beat them. We’ve done it all year,” reliever Joe Smith said. “We just need to take care of business when they come in.”
Despite ranking near the bottom in attendance all season, the Indians entered the day with a 44-27 record at home, good for fourth-best in the American League and eighth-best in the majors.
• The Indians are 5-2 in September, outscoring their opponents 34-21.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomehimer.