After firing manager Manny Acta, the Cleveland Indians could use a dose of positivity.
The Indians will try to gain that Friday night in their debut under interim boss Sandy Alomar Jr., seeking their first three-game win streak in nearly three months and an improved showing against the Kansas City Royals .
Cleveland (65-91) was 3 1/2 games out of first in the AL Central as recently as July 26, but its playoff hopes quickly evaporated as the team lost 11 in a row and 28 of 33.
That eventually led to Acta's firing on Thursday. Alomar, the Indians bench coach, was tapped to lead the team over the final six games of the season.
"Unfortunately, our results on the field fell short of our expectations," said general manager Chris Antonetti, whose team shares the AL's worst record with Minnesota. "We made this decision with the idea of getting better moving forward."
Just before the end of Acta's tenure, the Indians claimed a pair of wins in Chicago and pushed the White Sox out of first place in the division.
"It shows a little character," second baseman Jason Kipnis said after Wednesday's 6-4 victory. "We're obviously not going to be doing anything after Oct. 3, but the fact that we're still competing like we are right now shows signs of some character."
Cleveland hasn't won three in a row since July 3-5 and will try to end that drought with a better showing against the Royals (70-86). The Indians have dropped nine of the last 11 matchups, allowing an average of 6.0 runs to a Kansas City team which has scored the third-fewest in the AL.
Cleveland did snap a seven-game skid in the series with a 15-4 win Sunday behind David Huff (2-0, 2.25 ERA), who starts again Friday. The left-hander allowed one run and three hits over 5 2-3 innings.
Huff, called up from the minors Sept. 4, is 3-2 with a 4.91 ERA in five career starts against the Royals.
After losing to Huff and the Indians on Sunday, Kansas City was swept over four games in Detroit. The Royals came back from a four-run deficit Thursday only to lose 5-4 after committing five errors, their most since Sept. 24, 2009.
They haven't dropped six straight since a 12-game skid April 11-24 that included four losses to the Indians.
Kansas City's Will Smith (6-8, 4.88) will look to beat Cleveland for the second straight start. The rookie left-hander gave up two runs over seven innings in a 5-3 win over the Indians on Saturday.
His only other outing against them came May 29 in Cleveland and marked his first major league win, allowing two runs and four hits over six innings in an 8-2 victory.
"I know I beat them for my first victory, but they're just like any other team. They're major league hitters. They're good hitters," Smith told the team's website. "You still have to execute your plan, attack them, put up zeros and give your team a chance to win."
|Kansas City Royals|
|September 18, 2012||Luis Mendoza||Day-to-Day||Strep throat|
|September 14, 2012||Lorenzo Cain||Day-to-Day||Left game - Strained right hamstring|
|August 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Broken left thumb|
|August 17, 2012||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left game - fractured left thumb|
|July 28, 2012||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right knee|
|July 05, 2012||Luke Hochevar||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|September 27, 2012||Ubaldo Jimenez||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|September 26, 2012||Asdrubal Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained back|
|September 19, 2012||Asdrubal Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
|September 15, 2012||Jason Donald||Day-to-Day||Right forearm contusion|
|September 13, 2012||Michael Brantley||Day-to-Day||Sore left pectoral muscle|
|September 09, 2012||Asdrubal Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Sandy Alomar Jr. now has a beer-soaked baseball for his trophy case.
He'll treasure it as much as his glistening 1997 All-Star MVP award, maybe more since it is from his first win as a manager.
Jason Kipnis drove in three runs and Cleveland beat Kansas City 8-5 on Friday night, in Alomar's debut as the Indians' interim manager.
"Wow," Alomar said with a sigh. "I'm pretty happy."
Alomar, one of the most popular players in franchise history, was promoted from bench coach when Manny Acta was fired Thursday. The former All-Star catcher thanked Indians players for giving him a win right away.
"I wasn't nervous, more anxious to get it under my belt," he said.
David Huff (3-0) gave up three runs over six innings as Cleveland got its first three-game winning streak since July 3-5. Chris Perez closed Cleveland's fourth win in five games for his 39th save in 43 chances and gave the ball from the final out to Alomar, who was doused in beer by happy players.
"David did a tremendous job and the hitters kept rallies going," Alomar said. "Obviously not every day is going to be this way. Some will be more stressful. Kansas City came back and made it interesting and it was, `OK, we've got to do some thinking here."'
Cleveland was 3 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central on July 26, but its playoff hopes quickly evaporated as the team lost 11 straight and 28 of 33. That led to Acta's demise.
Alomar said in his first pregame meeting with the media as manager that he doesn't intend any drastic moves over the final six games. The former All-Star catcher said the Indians have the talent to contend, but players must stay focused. He insisted the team did not quit on Acta and thanked the former manager for adding him to the staff three years ago and giving him the opportunity to grow.
General manager Chris Antonetti said Alomar and former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona , who spent 2001 as an Indians front office assistant, top the list of candidates for the full-time job.
Lonnie Chisenhall , Cord Phelps and Ezequiel Carrera all had three hits for Cleveland. The Indians totaled 16 hits, including five straight with one out to score three runs off Will Smith (6-9) in the second inning.
"It was fun in the dugout, like a fresh breath of air," Chisenhall said. "Not that we haven't been trying hard to win every game, but it just was different. As bench coach, Sandy joked with us and he didn't change tonight."
Huff attested to that.
"Sandy came to me with a straight face and said, `By the way, this is my first game so don't disappoint me,"' Huff said. "OK, no pressure there."
Alex Gordon had three hits for Kansas City, which took a 1-0 lead on Adam Moore 's RBI double in the second.
Cleveland made it 3-1 in the bottom half. Carrera had an RBI single and Shin-Soo Choo followed with a run-scoring double high off the wall in left. Cord Phelps then singled home Carrera.
Chisenhall had an RBI double in the third and Choo doubled in a run in the fourth, later scoring on a groundout by Kipnis.
Cleveland loaded the bases on three straight singles in the fifth, the final one coming when reliever Everett Teaford fell down after fielding a bunt by Carrera. Kipnis' two-out, two-run single made it 8-1.
"The hole was big," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We clawed back a little bit, enough to score five runs. It was just too big a hole."
Billy Butler hit a two-run homer, his 29th, in the sixth. Salvador Perez 's two-run single off reliever Scott Maine made it 8-5 in the eighth.
Huff didn't issue a walk and struck out five in his strongest outing since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Sept. 4.
Smith gave up five runs and nine hits over three-plus innings. The rookie left-hander gave up two runs over seven innings in a 5-3 win over the Indians on Saturday and earned his first career win against them on May 29 in Cleveland.
NOTES: Alomar is the 41st manager in Cleveland history. ... Kansas City leads the season series 9-7. The Royals had won nine of the previous 11 after going 0-4 in April during a 12-game losing streak overall. ... Royals 1B Eric Hosmer and SS Alcides Escobar sat out with shoulder injuries sustained Thursday against Detroit. Hosmer had an MRI on Friday. Yost said results weren't available, but didn't think anything it is serious. ... Former Indians INF Alvaro Espinoza threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas made his fourth error in two games, misplaying an easy grounder by Russ Canzler in the fourth. On Thursday, he had three errors against Detroit including two on one play, ending his 47-game errorless streak.