Indians 5, Royals 4, 1st game; Indians 6, Royals 5, 2nd game
Hafner drove home the winning run in both games of a doubleheader sweep by Cleveland on Saturday, winning the first game 5-4 with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning, and the second 6-5 with a run-scoring double in the eighth.
“Hafner just keeps getting big hits,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s pretty special.”
Hafner’s second game-winning hit gave him 100 RBIs for the third consecutive season.
“About the only goals I set are getting my team to the playoffs and driving in 100,” he said. “Driving in runs means a lot to me.”
The Indians have won five in a row for the first time since April. The Royals have lost 10 straight games at Jacobs Field—including three in a row in Cleveland’s final at-bat.
“It was a long day,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “I feel like I’m repeating myself. The same outcomes all happening the same way.”
Grady Sizemore tied it in the bottom half with his 18th homer, off Jimmy Gobble (3-4). Jason Michaels then reached on an error by second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and scored on Hafner’s double to right-center.
Brian Sikorski (1-0) worked the final 1 1-3 innings for the win. He retired Shealy on a popup with a runner on second to end it.
“It felt good to be in there in that situation,” Sikorski said after his first AL win since Aug. 16, 2000—when he was with Texas. He then spent five years pitching in Japan before signing with San Diego last winter and being traded to Cleveland last month.
Cleveland’s Jeremy Guthrie, recalled from Triple-A Buffalo between games to make his first career start, allowed four runs and five hits over 4 2-3 innings. The right-hander, who had made 17 relief appearances for the Indians over parts of three seasons, struck out five and walked six.
Guthrie walked two and hit a batter to load the bases in the first. Shealy then hit a two-run single.
Sizemore doubled to open the bottom half, stole third as Michaels struck out and scored on a groundout by Hafner.
Kelly Shoppach’s three-run homer gave Cleveland a 4-2 lead in the second.
“Shoppach got the homer and the way he threw the ball made the difference,” Wedge said.
Shoppach threw out two of three runners attempting to steal and another trying to advance on a pitch that got away from him in the dirt.
“Shop was tremendous,” Guthrie said. “Give him credit for helping us keep it close.”
Shealy hit another two-run single after Guthrie walked three in the fifth. That made the Royals’ first baseman 6-for-8 (.750) with 12 RBIs in his career with the bases loaded.
In the first game, C.C. Sabathia limited the Royals to one run and five hits over eight innings, striking out 10. But the Royals tied it with three runs in the ninth off Jason Davis, helped by Hector Luna’s misplay at second base.
After Michaels struck out, Gobble relieved and Hafner hit a grounder just past diving second baseman Esteban German to score Luna.
“I was trying to hit a line drive up the middle, but a grounder through the hole will do,” Hafner said.
That came minutes after Luna messed up a grounder for an error to put Royals on first and second with one out. Shealy followed with an RBI single that made it 4-2. John Buck was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Angel Berroa added an RBI single.
“I thought he had no chance,” Grudzielanek said.
Michaels wasn’t sure he could make the catch, either.
“When he hit it, I said, ‘Let me get close,’ but the wind kind of knocked it down a bit,” he said. “That was all the reach I had to get there.”
Royals starter Odalis Perez issued only two walks until Luna singled with one out in the fifth for Cleveland’s first hit. In the sixth, Sizemore drew a leadoff walk and Michaels hit his ninth homer for a 2-0 lead.
Grudzielanek’s two-out RBI single in the eighth spoiled Sabathia’s bid for his third shutout of the season.
Between games, Indians INF Ramon Vazquez was designated for assignment. … Peralta has played a career-best 26 consecutive errorless games at shortstop. … Umpire crew chief Larry Young returned home for personal reasons and missed both games after working the plate Friday night. … DeJesus walked four times in the second game, tying a Royals record. … The Indians are expected to send Guthrie back to Buffalo and recall RHP Andrew Brown on Sunday.