CLEVELAND - The red-hot Cleveland Indians returned home last night for the first time in 10 days.
The Indians were fresh off a 6-0 road trip in which they had outscored their opponents 73-28 while collecting 97 hits - an average of 12.1 per game.
“Everybody's excited about the way we've been playing,“ Indians catcher Einar Diaz said.
Well, not quite everybody.
Only 31,537 fans showed up at Jacobs Field to watch the Indians extend their winning streak to nine games with an 8-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Cleveland improved to 10-5 at home.
“There's no pressure on us to keep the streak going, “shortstop Omar Vizquel said. “But we want to keep winning. We don't want to lose.“
Indians manager Charlie Manuel believes his team is hungrier now than it was last season, when the Chicago White Sox ended the Tribe's five-year run as American League Central Division champions. The Indians, despite winning 90 games a year ago, also fell one game short of a wild-card playoff berth.
Cleveland trails Minnesota by one game in the Central standings after the Twins blanked the New York Yankees 2-0 last night.
“I think we learned a lesson last year, and one of the biggest was the fact that there are teams in our division that are capable of putting together big seasons and beating us,“ Manuel said. “From that standpoint, I think it's helped us.
“You look at Minnesota this year. Like I said before, I'm getting tired of these Cinderella teams coming from the Central Division. But, at the same time, it goes to show you that our division is better now.
“We've got teams that are capable of playing over .500 and putting together big seasons. So, that means we've got to play much harder. We just have to take care of business in our own division.“
ODDS & ENDS: Marty Cordova extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double last night. He is batting .423 (22 of 52) during that stretch and has 26 RBIs in 21 games. ... Cleveland has scored 99 runs in the last 11 games. ... The Indians did not outhit their opponent for the first time since April 21 vs. Detroit, a span of 13 games. The Tribe and Royals each had 10 hits last night. ... Omar Vizquel has had a hit in eight of his last nine games, including the game-winning homer in the seventh last night. He has had at least one RBI in five of those games. ... Juan Gonzalez, who had a three-run homer in the first against the Royals, has had an RBI in 20 of 30 games since joining the Tribe. ... Roberto Alomar has hit safely in 12 of his past 14 games. During that stretch, he is hitting .426 with 16 runs. ... The Indians are 4-4 when a left-hander starts against them this year and are 17-5 vs. right-handers. ... Last night's Tribe victory snapped Kansa City's three-game winning streak at Jacobs Field.