Kansas City, Mo. Just about the only thing Indians manager Terry Francona cared to remember about the opener of Sunday’s day-night doubleheader against the Royals was that the Indians lost.
The nightcap proved to be much more enjoyable.
Mike Aviles hit a three-run homer and finished with a career-high five RBIs, and the Indians finally woke up their long-slumbering offense in beating the Royals 10-3 to salvage a split.
“That’s why it’s game-to-game,” Francona said. “We got leadoff runners on, and we kind of go down the line. We got a lead, which also helps, and then we added on.”
None of that happened in the opener, when the Royals’ Jeremy Guthrie shut down Cleveland in a 9-0 victory. But the Indians fared much better against spot starter Will Smith (0-1), scoring twice off him in the second inning before Aviles hit his three-run shot in the third.
Aviles added sacrifice flies in the fourth and seventh against his former team.
“Things haven’t been going the way we wanted them to lately. Everybody knows that,” Aviles said. “It was good to get a couple runs and then add on.”
Corey Kluber (2-0), whose throwing schedule has been shuffled around because of persistent bad weather, yielded only Chris Getz’s two-run blooper in the fourth inning in a stellar spot.
The Indians right-hander lasted seven innings and retired his final 10 batters.
“I’ve just been doing my best to try to stay sharp,” he said. “The first few innings there was a little more traffic on the bases than I’d like, but I did a pretty good job of settling in.”
Carlos Santana had four hits and drove in a run in Game 2 for the Indians, while the Royals committed three errors that helped lead to four unearned runs.
“We played crummy,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We didn’t play good. We didn’t play good defensively. We didn’t make smart decisions on the base paths. It happens. You have games like this. The important thing is you forget it and come back tomorrow ready to go.”
In the opener of a doubleheader caused by Friday night’s rainout, Guthrie (3-0) allowed six hits over 6 2/3 innings for his 16th consecutive start without a loss. That matched the Kansas City record set by Paul Splittorff from Aug. 13, 1977-April 22, 1978.
“I knew it’s been a number of starts in a row, because people kept reminding me of it,” Guthrie said with a smile. “Ultimately, it means a lot because hopefully the guys behind me when I go out are confident that we have a chance to win the game.”
Confidence was perhaps the biggest thing that Guthrie was missing last season in Colorado. He was just 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA before a trade to Kansas City, but went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA the rest of the way, earning a $25 million, three-year contract from the Royals in November.
Guthrie’s gone at least six innings in all four of his starts this season.
“I have the kind of confidence I want to go into each start with,” he said, “that good stuff or not, I can keep us in it and give us a chance to win the game.”
Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon homered to pace Kansas City.
Escobar’s solo shot came in the fifth inning and Gordon’s two-run homer came in the eighth, capping a big afternoon for the Royals offense. Jarrod Dyson also drove in a pair of runs, and Mike Moustakas had a single and three walks — one with the bases loaded.
“The walks to Moustakas were big,” Francona conceded.
Justin Masterson (4-2) allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings for the Indians. The right-hander, who entered the game with a 1.85 ERA, was trying to join Bob Lemon, Greg Swindell and Cliff Lee as the only pitchers in franchise history with five wins in April.
Instead, Masterson got roughed up by the bottom of the Royals’ lineup.
“Justin Masterson is such a good pitcher, and going into the game, my mind was prepared for a low-scoring affair,” Yost said. “I thought we’d have to squeak out some runs.”
So much for that. The only close call off Guthrie came in the second inning.
Santana hit a drive to center that hit off the green padding atop the wall. The ball bounced back into play and was ruled a double, and the call was upheld when the umpires checked the replay. Santana was left stranded when Guthrie retired Ryan Raburn and Lonnie Chisenhall.
“It was close,” Francona said. “I wish it had went about 2 inches further.”
Notes: Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez faces Royals RHP Wade Davis in tonight’s series finale. ... Cleveland put C Lou Marson on the DL (right shoulder strain) and recalled C Yan Gomes and LHP Scott Barnes from Triple-A Columbus prior to Game 1. ... Escobar has a hit in nine straight games. ... The Indians optioned Smith back to Triple-A Omaha after the game.