CLEVELAND— Francisco Lindor continued his scorching second half and strengthened his case for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, igniting the Indians’ offense in a 5-1 victory over the Royals on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Lindor (batting .361 since the All-Star break) churned out three hits, including a solo home run in the first inning, and matched a career best with four RBIs to back a strong start by Danny Salazar. Cleveland, which dropped to four games back of the second Wild Card spot with the Astros’ 14-3 loss to the Rangers, has won 14 of its past 20 games overall and 13 of 16 at home.
“We knew he could do those things,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “The level he’s played at and the consistency he’s shown is really exciting. I think now that he’s gotten a taste of it, you can see that it looks like he’s trying to understand more, the impact of each out. With the skills he has, it gets real exciting in a hurry.”
Salazar was charged with one run -- courtesy of a seventh-inning home run off the bat of Mike Moustakas -- in seven innings, in which the right-hander struck out six and walked two.
Royals lefty Danny Duffy was chased from the contest after allowing four runs on six hits in only 2 1/3 innings and righty Jeremy Guthrie picked up the slack with 4 2/3 innings of relief.
Kansas City’s magic number is eight, with the Twins’ 7-4 loss in 12 innings to the Tigers. And the Royals hold a two-game lead over Toronto for home-field advantage throughout the postseason, following the Blue Jays’ 9-1 win over the Braves on Wednesday.
“My level of concern is really just how we played the last two weeks,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’re not really swinging the bats really, really well, but I know that will come back. We’re not pitching really well and I know that will come back.
“What you want to do is balance it out. If you’re not swinging the bats well, starting pitching has to bail you out. And if you are swinging the bats well, then that picks up the pitchers. Right now, we’re not doing either.”