CLEVELAND (AP) — Zach Plesac won his second straight start since returning to the Cleveland Indians’ rotation after a demotion for breaking team COVID-19 protocols, a 5-2 victory over Kansas City on Monday night that extended the Royals’ losing streak to a season-high seven straight.
Plesac (3-1) gave up a hit in each of the first seven innings, including Adalberto Modesi’s 458-foot homer in the seventh, but came up with big pitches over seven innings.
Brad Hand struck out the side in the ninth for his 12th save in as many tries.
Tyler Naquin had two RBIs for the Indians against Brad Keller (3-2), who hung around until the seventh.
Cleveland is 21-2 when scoring at least three runs, a trend All-Star Francisco Lindor dismissed before the game.
“I’m not a stat guy,” he said. “I could care less about stats. As long as I go win and I do my thing to help the team win that day, I’ll be fine.”
Lindor got two hits and scored once, but also had a baserunning gaffe when he got called out on an appeal play in the sixth for failing to touch second.
Cleveland moved into a tie for first in the AL Central with the idle Chicago White Sox.
Kansas City made two errors and Mondesi provided the only real highlight with the longest homer of his career, a shot that cleared the lower seats in right.
Cleveland scored twice in the second off Keller, who limited the Indians just one run over 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 31.
Royals manager Mike Matheny played and managed in St. Louis, where he got to know Cardinals outfielder Lou Brock. The Hall of Famer died Sunday at 81.
“I had enough time to spend with him that I consider Lou Brock a friend,” Matheny said. “How amazing of a statement is that?”
Brock’s speed made him one of baseball’s most dangerous players. He stole at least 50 bases in 12 consecutive seasons and finished with 938. He swiped 118 bases in 1974. The Royals had 117 last season.
“A lost art,” Matheny said.
Lindor is grateful that Major League Baseball is allowing Puerto Rican players to wear No. 21 as a tribute to Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente on Wednesday.
A 15-time All-Star, Clemente is a hero in his native country as much for his baseball achievements as humanitarian work. He died in a 1972 plane crash bringing goods to Nicaragua following an earthquake.
“He represented all of us, and now it’s our turn to represent him,” Lindor said. “His name and his legacy will never die.”
Royals: C Salvador Pérez could be back by the weekend after being sidelined with blurred vision in his left eye. Matheny said Pérez took at-bats Sunday at the team’s alternate training site.
Indians: 3B José Ramírez left in the seventh with discomfort in his left thumb. He’s been battling the issue for a few weeks.
Indians rookie RHP Triston McKenzie (2-0) makes his fourth start and will face Royals RHP Jacob Junis (0-1). McKenzie blanked Kansas City on three hits over six innings last week.