Hafner hits long homer, Indians sweep Royals

The Associated Press
Hafner hits long homer, Indians sweep Royals
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Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, April 15, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Travis Hafner gave a powerful reminder of what he's meant to the Cleveland Indians.

Hafner hit one of the longest home runs in Kauffman Stadium history, Shelly Duncan homered and drove in three runs and the Indians romped past the Kansas City Royals 13-7 Sunday for a three-game sweep.

Casey Kotchman and Jason Kipnis homered on consecutive pitches for Cleveland in the eighth inning.

For the first time in the Indians' 111-year history, they scored at least eight runs in their first three road games of a season.

Hafner's home run in the fifth inning off Luis Mendoza went an estimated 456 feet and was the first to land in a sports bar behind the right-field bleachers. It was the longest home run at Kauffman Stadium since David Ortiz, then with Minnesota, hit one 458 feet on April 8, 2001.

''I've seen a lot of games here and I haven't seen a ball hit that far,'' Indians manager Manny Acta said. ''That was pretty impressive. He's hit two balls already that the people in Cleveland were used to seeing before he hurt his shoulder.''

Hafner hit 42 home runs in 2006, then had shoulder surgery in 2008. In the next three seasons while recovering, he hit a total of 42 homers.

''I feel great and really have a good approach at the plate and the swing feels good. I'm in a good spot,'' Hafner said.

It was not the longest home run of Hafner's career, but close.

''I think there have been some measured like in the 470s, but that's about as good as I can hit them,'' he said. ''I followed it. I didn't see it at the very end. I thought it made it over the seats. I was just able to stay back on an off-speed pitch and put a good swing on it and backspin it. It's fun to hit them that good.''

It was not fun for the Kansas City pitchers, who gave up seven home runs, 17 extra-base hits and 32 runs in the three games.

Things got so bad for the Royals that manager Ned Yost put outfielder Mitch Maier on the mound in the ninth. Maier was the only Kansas City pitcher to not give up a run, getting Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into a double play after giving up a single.

''Let's hope it doesn't happen again,'' Maier said. ''I don't like to be put in that situation, but we needed an inning.''

Hafner went 3 for 4 and drew an intentional walk. Duncan hit a three-run homer in the Indians' six-run third inning and walked in his next three plate-appearances.

Kotchman and Kipnis connected against Louis Coleman.

Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1), who had not pitched since April 7 while serving a five-game suspension from a spring training incident against Colorado, gave up four runs on nine hits and three walks in five innings to pick up the victory.

''Throwing 112 pitches in five innings is not good,'' Jimenez said. ''It feels good to feel part of the team again. It was the first time I've been suspended. It's not good at all. It doesn't feel good. You don't feel like you're part of the team. It's good to be back.''

Mendoza (0-2) was pulled after four-plus innings, permitting nine runs - five earned - on nine hits and four walks. The Royals' starting pitchers allowed 24 hits and 21 runs in 10 2-3 innings in the three losses.

Brayan Pena had his first career-four hit game. Chris Getz added three hits, including a triple, and drove in a pair of runs with a second-inning single as the Royals took a 3-0 lead.

NOTES: The Indians are expected to officially sign OF Johnny Damon to a minor league contract Monday after he passes a physical. He would report to their spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., for conditioning before going to Triple-A Columbus. If all goes well, Damon could join the Indians in early May. ... This was the 11th time in Royals' history they have used a position player to pitch and it was Maier's second time on the mound. He also threw a scoreless inning July 26, 2011, at Boston. ... The Royals recalled Coleman from Triple-A Omaha and optioned OF Jarrod Dyson to the same club. ... RHP Felipe Paulino, who is on the Royals disabled list with a forearm strain, is scheduled to throw 35 pitches Monday in an extended spring game in Surprise, Ariz. ... The Indians have homered in each of their first eight games. That is the fourth longest streak in franchise history to start a season. They homered in nine straight to open the 2006 and 1997 seasons. ... The Indians swept a series in Kansas City for the first time since April 2008.