Kansas City, Mo. What's up with John Buck and the supposedly woeful Kansas City Royals?
After winning just five of their first 25 games, the Royals have taken four of six, rapping out a season-high 17 hits and coming from behind three times to beat the Cleveland Indians, 10-7, on Tuesday night.
Buck, the light-hitting catcher, has gone 5-for-6 the last two games, hitting his first two home runs of the season and raising his average from .193 to .254.
It's almost as though owner David Glass' threat last week to make "significant changes" has inspired renewed effort.
"The most encouraging thing was the way we swung the bats tonight," manager Buddy Bell said. "Guys have been struggling, guys under .200, guys right at .200. When you have to look at that number every time on the scoreboard, every at-bat seems so crucial. This is a lift."
Buck had three hits and four RBIs, including a three-run home run in the six-run sixth that sent the Royals to their fourth straight victory over the Indians. Cleveland took leads of 2-0, 4-2 and 6-4, but the AL's weakest-hitting team kept slugging it out with the biggest-hitting team.
Aaron Guiel had three RBIs, including a solo homer in the fourth and a two-run single to cap the sixth, while Mark Grudzielanek had four hits and Kerry Robinson and Tony Graffanino each had three.
"The reason we kept up with them was because we were taking the extra base, we were hustling balls out," Buck said. "We've got to do things like that. We don't have any big, huge thumpers. We need to take those extra bases where we can get singles and still drive in two."
Buck had an RBI single in the fourth inning and then clubbed a 422-foot shot off reliever Danny Graves (2-1).
"We scored seven runs. That should be enough to win a ballgame," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "We just have to keep working. We need guys to step up. We've been looking for that guy to come in in the middle of an inning and stop the bleeding. We've been struggling with that all year."
Graves relieved starter Jason Johnson with two on, no outs and the Indians leading 6-4, but Buck hit a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left.
Grudzielanek then doubled and with two outs Graffanino hit a shot off the glove of third baseman Aaron Boone that went for an RBI double.
Joel Peralta (1-0) got the victory with 21â3 innings of two-run relief.
"There are a number of things we did not do well tonight," Wedge said. "You can't play like that and expect to win a ballgame."
Victor Martinez hit a tiebreaking two-run single off Peralta in the top of the sixth for the Indians' third lead of the night, 6-4.
Travis Hafner hit a two-run triple, barely missing a home run, for a 4-2 Cleveland lead in the fourth. Center fielder Robinson drifted back to the wall and leaped at the last minute, got his glove on the ball and appeared to draw it back onto the field.
Notes: RHP Zack Greinke continues to make progress at Kansas City's spring training complex in Arizona after missing most of the regular spring training while attending to personal issues. GM Allard Baird said there was still no timetable when Greinke, still considered the Royals' most promising pitching prospect, would be back. ... Cleveland RF Casey Blake was moved up from No. 9 to No. 7 in the batting order. ... The Indians had two runners thrown out on the base paths. Grady Sizemore, after opening the game with a triple for the second straight night, was caught in a rundown between third and home. Blake, after hitting a single in the second, was out in a rundown between second and third.