Swing and a drive! Swing and a drive indeed.
Those were the words of Tom Hamilton as Lonnie Chisenhall belted his first career grand slam into the right field bullpen. With that mighty swing of the bat, Chisnehall put the Tribe up 5-0 and gave them all the cushion they would need on Saturday night at Progressive Field.
To go along with Chisenhall’s epic blast, Scott Kazmir pitched 6.1 quality innings before exiting the game with what looked like cramping in his left forearm. Up until that point Kazmir looked solid once again. He allowed only two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out six Royals. It was a shame Kazmir had to leave the game early, but he did just enough. With the victory he has now run his record to 5-4 on the season with a 4.60 ERA.
The Indians scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the third. With runners at second and third, Jason Kipnis his a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Michael Bourn and putting the Tribe up 1-0. The RBI was Kipnis’ team leading 55th of the season.
In the bottom of the sixth, Chisenhall struck with his biggest blast of the season. With the bases loaded and two down against former Indian prospect Jeremy Guthrie, Chisenhall blasted the first pitch of the at bat deep to right field. Just from the sound of ball hitting bat you knew Chisenhall had gotten a hold of it. It was a sonic boom, the type of sound synonymous with old-time baseball. It was a no doubter. Tom Hamilton erupted, the fans went crazy, and Chisenhall was met with unbridled enthusiasm from his teammates as he made his way back into the dug out.
In the top of the seventh, after walking the first two batters and then getting Salvador Perez to pop up to the catcher, Kazmir exited the game. In stepped Matt Albers who promptly allowed an RBI single to Miguel Tejada to make it a 5-1 game. A few batters later, Alcides Escobar singled and scored Lorenzo Cain and Tejada to cut the Indians lead down to 5-3. The suddenly reliable Rich Hill relieved Albers and struck out Eric Hosmer to end the threat.
Over the course of the next two innings, the Indians trotted out Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez to close things out. They got the job done. Pestano allowed two hits during the eighth inning, but Perez was about as efficient as you could be in the ninth. He slammed the door shut on the Royals with a 1, 2, 3 inning that took all of 12 pitches for his twelfth save of the season.
The win puts the Indians record at 50-44 and combined with the Tigers’ loss to the Rangers on Saturday night puts the Indians a slim 1.5 games behind them in the standings. The Tribe will close out the first half of the season and look to get a sweep of the Royals this afternoon as Ubaldo Jimenez takes the mound against Royal ace James Shields. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05.
The Good: Scott Kazmir and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kaz was great again and was actually able to get the win. Chisenhall supplied the power going 2 for 4 with a grand slam and a double. It’s beginning to look as if the adjustments Chisenhall made during his time in Columbus are finally starting to translate at the big league level. If he has figured things out, it’s a huge development for the Indians.
The Bad: Kazmir’s maybe injury. We aren’t exactly sure why Kazmir was forced to leave the game, but let’s hope it was nothing more than some slight cramping. With the all-star break approaching he has an opportunity to get some quality rest so hopefully a little rest and relaxation will be enough to keep whatever this might be at bay.
The “Huh?”: The Indians wore throwback uniforms from 1902 last night. I’m not exactly sure why they decided to throw back to 1902, but I have to say, as the resident fashion critic here at Wahoo’s on First I give them two thumbs up. It was a nice break from the usual visual elements.