Kansas City, Mo. Mitch Maier didn’t particularly want to be on the mound. Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost didn’t really want to see him there, either but figured it was the best option.
In the ninth inning in a blowout loss to the Cleveland Indians, Yost moved Maier from center field and put him in to pitch to preserve an overworked bullpen.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again,” Maier said after the 13-7 defeat. “I don’t like to be put in that situation, but we needed an inning.”
It was the 11th time in Royals’ history they’ve used a position player on the mound. It was Maier’s second time, joining Jerry Terrell and Joe Simpson as the only Royals position players to do it more than once. Maier threw a scoreless inning at Boston last year.
The Indians led 13-5 when Maier entered. He worked around a hit and was the only one of the four Royals pitchers not to allow a run.
“I was a lot less nervous this time,” Maier said. “I wasn’t trying to do anything fancy or throw curveballs or anything. I just wanted to throw strikes.”
With the Royals’ starting pitchers allowing 24 hits and 21 runs in 102⁄3 innings in the three losses, the bullpen was summoned often.
“Mitch saved us,” Yost said. “Louis Coleman saved us. If we had to go to one of the other guys that would have been two days in a row for them and they would be unavailable for us Monday.”
Coleman, who was recalled Sunday from Triple-A Omaha, threw a career-high 57 pitches in three innings. He gave up home runs on back-to-back pitches to Casey Kotchman and Jason Kipnis in the eighth.
Travis Hafner hit one of the longest home runs in Kauffman Stadium history and Shelly Duncan homered and drove in three runs for Cleveland.
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 (in 2008).”
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.
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.
Mendoza (0-2) was pulled after four-plus innings, permitting nine runs — five earned — on nine hits and four walks.
“It’s not the way we wanted to open up at home,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “It would say a lot about this team if we could bounce back.”
The Royals will try to snap a four-game losing streak today against Detroit and 2011 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.