Lindor homers, leads Indians past Royals 7-1
CLEVELAND (AP) Big hits and big plays on defense. Francisco Lindor did it all for the Cleveland Indians.
Lindor hit two doubles, belted one of Cleveland's three home runs and started an outstanding defensive play, leading the Indians into first place in the AL Central with a 7-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
The switch-hitting shortstop's highlight-reel moments have become a daily occurrence for his teammates.
''It's every night,'' winning pitcher Josh Tomlin said. ''He's a special player, that's for sure. Tonight, he surprised us again. You never know what he's going to pull out there.''
Lindor, whose two-run homer came in the seventh inning, became the first Indians player to record three extra-base hits in a game this season, However, it was his defense in the ninth that grabbed everyone's attention.
Playing in a shift near second base, Lindor made a backhand stop of Kendrys Morales' hard-hit grounder and flipped to third baseman Jose Ramirez, who was playing behind second. Ramirez threw to first for the out.
Lindor pumped his fist and exchanged a hand slap with Ramirez as the crowd of 23,258 gave him a standing ovation.
''If I react the way I react when I make a play like that on a home run, people are going to think I'm hot-dogging it,'' he said. ''You've got to know your place. I love it when a pitcher makes a good pitch to get the guy out and I help him to make the play. It's huge.''
Lindor's two doubles came batting left-handed off Ian Kennedy (4-4). The home run was off left-hander Scott Alexander.
''Lindor is real good hitting right-handed, but really, he's just a special player,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''He does so many things well.''
The Indians will go for a sweep of the four-game series Sunday, and have won five of six against the Royals this season.
Tyler Naquin, who hit his first big league home run Friday, hit a two-run homer in the sixth. Mike Napoli started the four-run inning with a solo homer.
Tomlin (8-1) bounced back from his first loss of the season and allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings. Tomlin, who lost to Texas on Monday, was pulled after Rey Fuentes' RBI single.
''They were swinging the bats pretty well the whole game, stuff just wasn't falling,'' he said. ''We were playing great defense behind me. We were having good at-bats and finally broke through.''
Royals catcher Salvador Perez returned to the lineup after missing six games with a bruised left thigh. He had two hits off Tomlin and is 13 for 20 in his career against him.
Kennedy allowed five runs in six innings for Kansas City, which had won six straight overall entering the series.
Indians manager Terry Francona recalled meeting boxing legend Muhammad Ali in 2005 when the Red Sox played an exhibition game in Arizona.
''He came to our clubhouse and took some pictures with us,'' Francona said. ''I had a good picture where I'm putting my hand up like I was going to jab and he was having fun with it. He was very gracious to everyone. It was pretty cool.''
Royals: RHP Kris Medlen (rotator cuff inflammation) will throw to batters Monday at the team's training facility in Surprise, Arizona. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 11.
Indians: RHP Joba Chamberlain (left intercostal strain) could be activated from the 15-day disabled list early in the week. He threw a 20-pitch simulated game Saturday.
Royals: RHP Chris Young (2-5) makes his first start since May 9. He has made two relief appearances since coming off the 15-day disabled list with a sore forearm May 28.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (4-6) allowed six runs, including two homers, in seven innings Monday when he lost to Texas. He's 5-5 in 14 career starts against Kansas City.