Kansas City, Mo. Rookie second baseman Luis Valbuena is starting to enjoy these game-winning home runs.
He hit one for the second time in three days Monday night, driving a three-run shot off Joakim Soria in the eighth inning and sending the Cleveland Indians past the hapless Kansas City Royals, 10-6. Travis Hafner also had a big night for the Indians with a three-run homer and an RBI double in a 3-for-5 outing.
“I feel better. I feel good at the plate,” Valbuena said through an interpreter. “I feel like every game I start, something good is going to happen.”
Valbuena, who had a walk-off home run in a 4-3 victory over Seattle on Saturday night, hit Soria’s fastball for his eighth home run after K.C. took a 5-4 lead in the seventh on Yuniesky Betancourt’s sacrifice fly off Jeremy Sowers.
Soria (3-2), who does not usually come in before the ninth, started the eighth and gave up singles to Jhonny Peralta and Hafner ahead of Valbuena, who started the year in Triple-A and was recalled on May 2.
“He gets big hits. He likes being up there in key situations, and he’s been swinging the bat very well,” manager Eric Wedge said. “You’re seeing a young man who is continually getting better over the course of the season, continuing to get a better feel for this league and different situations, different types of games.”
Soria, an All-Star closer in 2008, blew his third save in 23 chances, and Kansas City lost its fifth in a row.
“I was ready,” Soria said. “It was just a bad night. I tried to hit the outside corner (on Valbuena), and the ball came down the middle.”