Chisenhall slams the Indians to a 5-3 win over the Royals
First career grand slam for Chisenhall proves to be the game winner
Cleveland, OH -- Lonnie Chisenhall hit his first career grand slam and Scott Kazmir pitched six and one-third innings of two run baseball as the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 5-3 Saturday night at Progressive Field.
The Indians have now won for the fifth time in seven games. Cleveland is 50-44 and trails Detroit by 1.5 games in the American League Central going into the final game before the All-Star break.
Chisenhall's sixth-inning blast off former Indian Jeremy Guthrie put the Tribe up 5-0 and ricocheted off the facing of the second deck in right field, landing in the visitor bullpen.
"It's a good feeling, probably the best one of my career so far, especially being my first grand slam," Chisenhall said. "It was a big game for us."
Chisenhall, the team's first draft pick in 2008, began the year as Cleveland's starting third baseman but was sent to Triple-A Columbus on May 15 after hitting just .213 in the opening months of the season. He has displayed better plate discipline while hitting .292 with three homers and 14 RBIs since being recalled on June 18.
"Nobody wants to go down but I knew at some point I was going to start hitting the ball," Chisenhall said. "I did all I could to work hard in Triple-A so I could help the major league team when I got back."
Indians manager Terry Francona says Chisenhall's improvement is due to taking advantage of good pitches to hit.
"When he's getting balls to hit he's not fouling them," Francona said. "Sometimes you get one pitch to hit in an at-bat. Now he's getting it and hitting it."
Kazmir (5-4, 4.60) allowed two runs in six and one-third innings for his first victory since June 21. He surrendered just four hits and walked three while striking out six.
"It feels good to go out there and throw strikes," Kazmir said. "I feel like I've been a little more consistent."
Kazmir remains undefeated at home this season, going 5-0 in eight starts at Progressive Field.
The Tribe took the lead in the bottom of the third and never looked back. After Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrerasingled to lead off the inning, Jason Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly that plated Bourn from third.
Kipnis had three hits in three plate appearances and picked up his 55th RBI of the season. His batting average now sits at .297.
In all, Guthrie (8-7, 4.25) allowed five earned runs on eight hits and three walks while striking three. Luke Hochevarpitched the eighth for the Royals, allowing a hit.
Rich Hill struck out Eric Hosmer to end the seventh. Vinnie Pestano worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth, thanks to a diving play by first baseman Carlos Santana to snag a line drive off the bat of Miguel Tejada. Chris Perezpitched the ninth for his 12th save.
The Indians will look for the sweep against the Royals Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez(7-4, 4.37) will face off against Royals ace James Shields (4-6, 3.12) in the final game before the All-Star break.
Notes: Zach McAllister (sprained middle finger) allowed two runs in three and one-third innings Saturday on a rehab start at Double-A Akron against Altoona. … The Indians wore 1902 replica road jerseys and caps.
Nathan Kemp graduated from The University of Akron in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. He plans to pursue a graduate degree through NEOMFA in the fall. Follow him on Twitter @NathanCKemp.