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Surprise Indians, Royals clash in Kansas City

Apr 18, 2011 - 2:43 PM (Sports Network) - The smart thinking was that the American League Central would wind up being a three-team race. However, nobody thought the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals would be in the mix. But, that's the situation this evening when the division's cellar dwellers in each of the last two seasons begin a four-game set at Kauffman Stadium with first place on the line.

After the teams sported identical 65-97 marks in 2009, Cleveland ended the 2010 campaign two games better than the Royals at 69-93. Not much was expected from either team this season, but the Tribe have stormed out of the gates at 11-4, while Kansas City sits a game back of them.

"Both teams have [had] a great start to the season," said Royals infielder Wilson Betemit. "You see Cleveland and those guys are playing unbelievable right now. But we're great, too. We'll see when those guys come in who's going to be the best."

Cleveland continued its best start since 2002 on Sunday, as Grady Sizemore homered in his season debut, helping the Indians complete a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 4-2 victory at Progressive Field.

Sizemore played a big league game for the first time since last May 16, as his 2010 season was cut short by a knee injury that required microfracture surgery in June. He was back in his customary leadoff spot, playing center field, and finished 2-for-4 with a third-inning homer and a double in the fifth.

"When the game started, I had all the jitters going. I just wanted to get in there and get going," said Sizemore.

Fausto Carmona (1-2) limited the Orioles to a pair of runs -- one earned -- on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts in his third straight solid outing after the White Sox battered him for 10 runs and 11 hits in three innings on Opening Day. He has surrendered just three earned runs on 11 hits over 21 2/3 innings over his last three starts, but was victimized by a lack of run support in his previous two outings.

"A very good outing today by Fausto," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "The first time through the order he was very good with first-pitch strikes. The second time through he wasn't as good, but he always seemed to make a pitch when he needed to."

Hoping to pitch Cleveland to its first 12-4 start since 1999 tonight will be young right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA. Carrasco did not get a decision on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as he allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings of a 4-3 loss.

He has faced the Royals twice and is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA.

Kansas City, meanwhile, is off to its best start since beginning the 2003 campaign 11-4, but was denied a series sweep of the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, falling, 3-2, in the finale.

Alex Gordon extended his hitting streak to 11 in the loss. He is hitting .429 (21-for-49) with 11 RBI and 14 runs scored during the streak.

Jeff Francis (0-1) allowed three runs and six hits over 6 1/3 innings for the Royals, who had their win streak halted at four games.

Kyle Davies will be trying to get the Royals back on track tonight, as he tries for his second consecutive win. Davies beat the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday, but was not impressive in allowing five runs and 10 hits in five innings.

Davies, who is 1-1 on the year, has surrendered 14 runs in 14 innings of work this season.

Cleveland was 10-8 against the Royals last season.

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    Indians 7, Royals 3  Final/10Apr 19 1:13 PM


    Apr 18 11:39 PM

  • Grady Sizemore single to short scored Jack Hannahan. Runner on first with two outs and Asdrubal Cabrera due up.

    Indians 7, Royals 3  Top 10, 2 OutsApr 18 11:29 PM

  • Jack Hannahan double to center scored Matt LaPorta. Runner on second with two outs and Grady Sizemore due up.

    Indians 6, Royals 3  Top 10, 2 OutsApr 18 11:28 PM

  • Matt LaPorta grounded into a fielder's choice, second to short. On the play, Adam Everett scored on Alcides Escobar's throwing error. Runner on first with two outs and Jack Hannahan due up.

    Indians 5, Royals 3  Top 10, 2 OutsApr 18 11:28 PM

  • Pinch-Hitter Shelley Duncan double to left scored Carlos Santana. Runner on second with none out and Orlando Cabrera due up.

    Indians 4, Royals 3  Top 10, 0 OutsApr 18 11:18 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 58 roots (Close Finish)

    Indians 3, Royals 3  End 9Apr 18 11:13 PM

  • Matt LaPorta single to left scored Michael Brantley. Runner on first with none out and Jack Hannahan due up.

    Indians 3, Royals 3  Top 7, 0 OutsApr 18 9:58 PM
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    Indians 3, Royals 3  Top 7, 0 OutsApr 18 9:58 PM

  • Alex Gordon single to center scored Melky Cabrera. Runner on first with none out and Billy Butler due up.

    Indians 2, Royals 3  Bot 6, 0 OutsApr 18 9:46 PM
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    Indians 2, Royals 3  Bot 6, 0 OutsApr 18 9:46 PM

  • Shin-Soo Choo sacrifice fly out to center scored Grady Sizemore. Asdrubal Cabrera thrown out at second. None on with two outs and Carlos Santana due up.

    Indians 2, Royals 1  Top 3, 2 OutsApr 18 8:57 PM

  • Wilson Betemit sacrifice fly out to left scored Billy Butler. Runner on third with two outs and Matt Treanor due up.

    Indians 1, Royals 1  Bot 2, 2 OutsApr 18 8:49 PM

  • Carlos Santana double to center scored Shin-Soo Choo. Runner on second with two outs and Travis Hafner due up.

    Indians 1, Royals 0  Top 1, 2 OutsApr 18 8:19 PM

    Top 1, 0 Outs

    Apr 18 8:11 PM
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    Indians vs. RoyalsApr 18 6:02 PM