The veteran outfielder hopes for another strong game against his former team while trying to help the Indians match their season high with a fourth consecutive victory Saturday night against the visiting Nationals.
Kearns homered twice and drove in four runs in Cleveland’s 7-2 win over Washington on Friday.
Traded from Cincinnati to Washington in July 2006, Kearns had 16 homers and 74 RBIs in 161 games in 2007. However, three stints on the disabled list limited him to 10 home runs and 49 RBIs in 166 games the last two seasons.
“It doesn’t matter which team it is, I want to win, not just against them,” said Kearns, who signed a minor league contract with Cleveland and is batting a team-leading .307 with seven homers and 31 RBIs in 49 games.
After enduring an 0-for-13 stretch, Kearns is 13 for 30 with four home runs and nine RBIs in his last eight games. He’s a lifetime .333 hitter with 24 RBIs in 17 games against the Nationals’ franchise.
“Austin is the ultimate pro and it’s good to see him healthy,” said Indians manager Manny Acta, who was fired as Nationals manager last season. “Right now, he’s one of our main threats.”
The Indians (24-36) may soon have another one in rookie catcher Carlos Santana(notes). The highly touted prospect, who batted .316 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs in 57 games for Triple-A Columbus, went 0 for 3 with a run scored and threw out a runner in his major league debut Friday.
“He’s still a prospect,” general manager Mark Shapiro said. “There will be some growing pains. But he’s a guy who will be fun to watch and has the upside to be a star.”
Carmona, 0-4 with a 3.58 ERA in five outings since winning at Kansas City on May 12, gave up three runs and six walks in six innings of a 4-1 loss to Boston on Monday.
The right-hander is 1-3 with a 3.24 ERA in five interleague starts. One of those came when he allowed three runs in six innings of a 4-1 loss at Washington on June 22, 2007.
Rodriguez is 5 for 11 in three games since coming off the disabled list Tuesday with a lower back strain.
Washington’s J.D. Martin(notes) (0-1, 2.31) makes his third start Saturday since being called up from Triple-A Syracuse on May 29. The right-hander last pitched June 3, not getting a decision as he allowed three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to Houston.
Martin has made 17 career appearances, but this will be his first during interleague play.