Brantley leads Indians to 3-2 home-opening win over Royals
CLEVELAND — Michael Brantley singled home two runs in his first at-bat this season and Carlos Carrasco worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 3-2 win in their chilly home opener over the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
Brantley missed Cleveland’s first six games while on the disabled list recovering from offseason ankle surgery. But just hours after being activated, the two-time All-Star delivered in the first inning against Danny Duffy (0-2), who managed to hang around until the sixth.
Following devastating finishes in the past two postseasons, the Indians are hoping this is the year they end their 70-year World Series title drought, baseball’s longest.
Brantley is a major part of their plans, but he needs to stay healthy after being limited to 101 games the past two seasons due to injuries.
Carrasco (2-0) gave up two runs in the first inning, but settled in. The right-hander retired 13 straight before running into trouble in the sixth, when the Royals loaded the bases on two singles and a one-out intentional walk.
But Carrasco struck out Lucas Duda looking at a 3-2 pitch and retired Cheslor Cuthbert on a liner to left.
Nick Goody worked the seventh, Andrew Miller put on two runners then struck out the side in the eighth, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for his second save.
The Indians, who didn’t hit while blowing a 2-0 lead to New York in the AL Division Series last October, came in batting a league-low .161. They only got four hits, but that was enough thanks to Carrasco and their top-flight bullpen.
The Royals dropped to 3-16 in Cleveland since May 8, 2016.
Down 2-0 in the first, the Indians benefited from Duffy’s early wildness to score three times.
The left-hander, possibly bothered by the bitter, blustery weather conditions, walked Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis before Jose Ramirez dribbled an RBI single through the middle.
After Duffy’s third walk of the inning, this one to slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Brantley dropped a two-run single into right, a satisfying moment for the 30-year-old who has spent the past two seasons battling back from shoulder and ankle injuries.
The Royals scored twice in the first on an RBI groundout by Mike Moustakas and Duda’s broken-bat RBI single, which came after he inadvertently flung another bat into the netting behind home plate.
Rajai Davis received a huge ovation from Cleveland’s fans during pregame introductions. Davis, who hit a game-tying homer in the eighth inning of Game 7 in the 2016 World Series, re-signed with the club this winter.
Davis doubled in three at-bats.
The Royals have played a league-low five games, thanks to weather postponements against the White Sox and Tigers. But manager Ned Yost isn’t fretting about their erratic workload. “You can’t do anything to change it, so it’s as difficult as you want to make it,” he said. “You just try to go with the flow the best you can.”
Royals: Duda (right hamstring tightness) returned to the lineup after missing one game. Yost said he will serve as the designated hitter all weekend.
Indians: Brantley’s workload will be closely monitored before he plays regularly. Manager Terry Francona said the Indians will use a “common sense” approach with Brantley, who has been limited to 101 games over the past two seasons.
Kansas City RHP Ian Kennedy (0-0, 1.50 ERA) takes on Cleveland RHP Trevor Bauer (0-0, 3.60 ERA) in the second game of the series Saturday. Kennedy is winless in his last five starts against the Indians. Bauer pitched five innings in his first start.