Hand pulls through vs Royals
Lindor homers to send Tribe to win
Indians manager Terry Francona’s faith in his All-Star closer paid off Friday night.
Brad Hand bounced back from his recent struggles to record his 30th save and Cleveland defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Friday night.
Hand had blown three consecutive saves and allowed seven earned runs and 13 hits over five innings in his previous five appearances. Francona maintained his confidence in Hand despite the left-hander’s numbers.
“I was happy for him, man, everybody was,” Francona said. “He’s had a tough go. We need him. It was nice to see.”
Hand admitted dealing with a rough stretch isn’t easy.
“When you blow a game it’s basically all on you,” he said. “You’re the person that cost the team a win. This has probably been my worst stretch that I’ve had in a long time, which makes it a little tougher. You have to believe in yourself and hopefully things will start going the right way.”
Hand gave up a leadoff single to Alex Gordon in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert bounced into a double play, extending his hitless streak to 0 for 39, and Bubba Starling grounded out to end the game.
Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer when Cleveland scored four times in the second inning, giving his team a much-needed boost.
The All-Star shortstop hit his 22nd homer, a blast to right field off Jakob Junis (8-12) to give Cleveland a 4-0 lead. Tyler Naquin also had a two-run single in the inning.
Rookie Zach Plesac (7-4) allowed one run in 52/3 innings. The right-hander is 3-0 in three starts against Kansas City this season.
Plesac took a two-hit shutout into the sixth when Nicky Lopez led off with a single. Plesac retired the next two hitters before Hunter Dozier hit a line drive to center. Oscar Mercado attempted to make a diving catch, but the ball sailed past him and rolled to the wall, giving Dozier an RBI triple.
Junis allowed four runs in four innings and is 1-4 in six starts against Cleveland this season. Lindor is batting .500 (16 for 32) with four homers and 12 RBIs lifetime against the right-hander.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco will pitch in his third rehab game at Triple-A Columbus on Sunday as he continues his comeback from leukemia. Carrasco will make a couple of more minor league appearances before a decision is made whether he’ll rejoin the Indians.
Francona said Corey Kluber will have more imaging tests done on his strained oblique that shut down his rehab assignment this week. The Indians hoped the two-time Cy Young Award winner was close to returning from the broken right forearm that had sidelined him since getting struck by a line drive May 1.
Royals: RHP Glenn Sparkman (3-8, 5.40 ERA) is winless in six starts since throwing his first career shutout against the White Sox on July 16.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger (8-2, 3.11 ERA) is riding a seven-game winning streak over nine starts since July 3. He’s also 8-0 in his career against the Royals.