Cleveland Sandy Alomar Jr. now has a beer-soaked baseball for his trophy case.
He’ll treasure it as much as his glistening 1997 All-Star MVP award, maybe more since it is from his first win as a manager.
Jason Kipnis drove in three runs, and Cleveland beat Kansas City, 8-5, on Friday night, in Alomar’s debut as the Indians’ interim manager.
“Wow,” Alomar said with a sigh. “I’m pretty happy.”
Alomar, one of the most popular players in franchise history, was promoted from bench coach when Manny Acta was fired Thursday. The former All-Star catcher thanked Indians players for giving him a win right away.
“I wasn’t nervous, more anxious to get it under my belt,” he said.
David Huff (3-0) gave up three runs over six innings as Cleveland got its first three-game winning streak since July 3-5. Chris Perez closed Cleveland’s fourth win in five games for his 39th save in 43 chances and gave the ball from the final out to Alomar, who was doused in beer by happy players.
“David did a tremendous job and the hitters kept rallies going,” Alomar said. “Obviously not every day is going to be this way. Some will be more stressful. Kansas City came back and made it interesting and it was, ‘OK, we’ve got to do some thinking here.’”
Cleveland was 31⁄2 games out of first place in the AL Central on July 26, but its playoff hopes quickly evaporated as the team lost 11 straight and 28 of 33. That led to Acta’s demise.
Alomar said in his first pregame meeting with the media as manager that he doesn’t intend any drastic moves over the final six games. The former All-Star catcher said the Indians have the talent to contend, but players must stay focused. He insisted the team did not quit on Acta and thanked the former manager for adding him to the staff three years ago and giving him the opportunity to grow.
General manager Chris Antonetti said Alomar and former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who spent 2001 as an Indians front office assistant, top the list of candidates for the full-time job.
Lonnie Chisenhall, Cord Phelps and Ezequiel Carrera all had three hits for Cleveland. The Indians totaled 16 hits, including five straight with one out to score three runs off Will Smith (6-9) in the second inning.
“It was fun in the dugout, like a fresh breath of air,” Chisenhall said. “Not that we haven’t been trying hard to win every game, but it just was different. As bench coach, Sandy joked with us and he didn’t change tonight.”
Huff attested to that.
“Sandy came to me with a straight face and said, ‘By the way, this is my first game so don’t disappoint me,’” Huff said. “OK, no pressure there.”
Alex Gordon had three hits for Kansas City, which took a 1-0 lead on Adam Moore’s RBI double in the second.
Cleveland made it 3-1 in the bottom half. Carrera had an RBI single and Shin-Soo Choo followed with a run-scoring double high off the wall in left. Cord Phelps then singled home Carrera.
Chisenhall had an RBI double in the third and Choo doubled in a run in the fourth, later scoring on a groundout by Kipnis.
Cleveland loaded the bases on three straight singles in the fifth, the final one coming when reliever Everett Teaford fell down after fielding a bunt by Carrera. Kipnis’ two-out, two-run single made it 8-1.
“The hole was big,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We clawed back a little bit, enough to score five runs. It was just too big a hole.”
Billy Butler hit a two-run homer, his 29th, in the sixth. Salvador Perez’s two-run single off reliever Scott Maine made it 8-5 in the eighth.
Huff didn’t issue a walk and struck out five in his strongest outing since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Sept. 4.
Smith gave up five runs and nine hits over three-plus innings. The rookie left-hander gave up two runs over seven innings in a 5-3 win over the Indians on Saturday and earned his first career win against them on May 29 in Cleveland.
NOTES: Alomar is the 41st manager in Cleveland history. ... Kansas City leads the season series 9-7. The Royals had won nine of the previous 11 after going 0-4 in April during a 12-game losing streak overall. ... Royals 1B Eric Hosmer and SS Alcides Escobar sat out with shoulder injuries sustained Thursday against Detroit. Hosmer had an MRI on Friday. Yost said results weren’t available, but didn’t think anything it is serious. ... Former Indians INF Alvaro Espinoza threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas made his fourth error in two games, misplaying an easy grounder by Russ Canzler in the fourth. On Thursday, he had three errors against Detroit including two on one play, ending his 47-game errorless streak.