By Jordan Bastian and Jeffrey Flanagan
CLEVELAND -- It was an afternoon of extremes for the Indians and Royals on Sunday. Cleveland's offense overwhelmed early with a nine-run second inning, Kansas City's lineup set a club-record scoreless drought and the Tribe walked away with a 12-0 win at Progressive Field.
The victory completed a three-game sweep for the Indians, who outscored the Royals, 20-0, in the series and notched their first string of three straight shutouts since Sept. 18-19, 1956, against the Washington Senators. On the other side of the equation, Kansas City's scoreless streak reached 34 innings, the longest such run in the Majors this year and in franchise history. Carlos Carrasco led the way with seven shutout innings against the Royals.
"Today was a little bit of an abnormal [game]," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Those don't happen very often, and it's a heck of a lot better when you're not on the receiving end, because we've been there also, but the guys did a good job. Carrasco, he got the lead, and he was efficient after that."
On the other side of the equation, Kansas City's scoreless streak reached 34 innings, the longest such run in the Majors this year and in franchise history. The previous Royals' mark of 32 was set in 2004.
"Guys are just trying to do a little too much," Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield said. "We all know we're struggling. Guys want to step up and spark the team. We know we haven't scored a run in however long it's been. I think guys are trying to take it upon themselves a little too much and just trying to do a little too much."
Carrasco, whose nickname was "Cookie" for Players Weekend, turned in seven shutout innings for the American League Central-leading Indians, who are now nine games ahead of the third-place Royals. Carrasco struck out nine, walked none and was backed by home runs from Yan Gomes, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana. Cleveland is 6 1/2 games in front of the second-place Twins.
All three homers came within the Indians' nine-run second, with Gomes highlighting the power display with a grand slam off lefty Onelki Garcia. Lefty starter Eric Skoglund was charged with seven runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings for the Royals, who are 2 1/2 games back of the AL's second Wild Card spot.
"That's a pretty quality lineup," Skoglund said. "You have to make quality pitches. I didn't do that. Paid for it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gomer's big homer: The exclamation point on the Tribe's nine-run second inning was the grand slam launched by Gomes. After Garcia loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk, Gomes (using "Gomer" for Players Weekend, due to Francona's nickname for the catcher) crushed an 0-1 pitch to the Home Run Porch in left field to give Cleveland a dozen runs on the day. It was Gomes' first slam since Aug. 29, 2015.
"Things like that don't happen very often, so when you're being part of it, it's kind of fun," Gomes said. "And in the next inning, I look up and I was like, 'Man, that all happened in one inning.' That can sure kill a team's momentum."
Smile, Lindor homered: Gomes also got the second inning rolling with a leadoff single to left against Skoglund. That set the stage for Lindor (aka "Mr. Smile"), who popped the cork on the inning with a towering two-run homer to left. The blast was the 24th of the year for Lindor, who is one shy of matching Asdrubal Cabrera's single-season club record for homers as a shortstop (25 in 2011). It was also Lindor's fifth homer in the past eight games.
"He's growing up, man," Gomes said. "You tend to forget that he's 23 years old. Man, I was doing something else at 23. I wasn't being the best player in the big leagues, I'll tell you that. So just seeing his maturity has been a huge thing for our ballclub, really."
"You start taking it in and it's like, 'All right, let's keep it going.' I was looking at [Mike] Moustakas [batting] in the ninth, and it's almost like you're pitching a no-hitter sort of deal. Let's get this last inning and finish it, and we did." -- Gomes, on the Indians completing their third straight shutout
"We have a lot of respect for their pedigree. They've been there and done it. I don't think it's wrong to have a healthy respect for who you're playing, as long as you don't back down. But we did a really good job this weekend." -- Francona, on the Royals
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Not only did Cleveland pitch three shutouts in a row, but the pitching staff also extended its scoreless streak to 28 innings. That marks the longest in the Majors this year and the longest for the Indians since a 28-inning run in May 2008. The Tribe's franchise record is 47 consecutive scoreless innings in August 1948.
SAVING THE BULLPEN
Garcia, who was just added to the 25-man roster Saturday, made his first Major League appearance since 2013, when he was with the Dodgers. After Garcia, 28, gave up five runs in the second inning in relief of Skoglund, he shut down the Indians for five frames.
"Garcia was impressive," Yost said. "Really struggled in [his] first inning but settled down and saved us. He saved the bullpen. We were lining up five guys to go an inning apiece down there, and we didn't have to do it. That was just a great job on his part."
From the opposite dugout, Francona also appreciated what Garcia did for the Royals.
"We kind of kept at them. Garcia really saved them," Francona said. "I know he's been stretched out as a starter, but he kind of endured that initial four or five hitters, and he stayed out there for 90-something pitches."
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-9, 5.09 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals as they return to Kauffman Stadium on Monday at 7:15 p.m. CT to take on the Rays. Kennedy gave up seven hits and three runs over 4 2/3 innings last Wednesday in the Royals' 6-4 walkoff win over Colorado.
Indians: Ace Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA) will continue on his American League Cy Young campaign trail on Monday, when the Yankees host the Tribe in the opener of a three-game set at 7:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium. Kluber spun a complete-game gem against New York on Aug. 3, ending with 11 strikeouts, one walk and one run allowed He has a 1.87 ERA in his past 16 turns.