A die-hard fan of mixed-martial arts, Indians catcher Yan Gomes wore a T-shirt following Sunday’s game with “Throat Punch” written on the front.
The clothing choice was fitting.
Cleveland blasted Kansas City with all it had.
Gomes hit a grand slam to highlight a nine-run second inning against two Royals rookie left-handers and the Indians completed a three-game shutout sweep over one of their AL Central rivals with a 12-0 win on Sunday.
The Indians thoroughly dominated the Royals over three days at Progressive Field, outscoring them 20-0 while posting three consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1956.
“It’s unbelievable, man,” Gomes said. “It’s definitely something. You start taking it in and it’s like, ‘All right, let’s keep it going.’”
Carlos Carrasco (13-6) allowed six hits in seven innings as the Indians moved 17 games over .500 for the first time this season and opened a nine-game lead in the division over the Royals, who came to town thinking they could close the gap on the AL champions.
Instead, Kansas City is staggering home in the midst of the longest scoring drought — now at 34 innings — in team history.
“It’s over,” second baseman Whit Merrifield said. “There’s nothing we can do about it now. We all know we’re struggling. We know we haven’t scored a run in however long it’s been and guys are trying to take it upon themselves a little too much.”
Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer in the second off Eric Skoglund (1-2) before Carlos Santana connected for a three-run shot against Onelki Garcia. Gomes capped Cleveland’s biggest inning this season with his drive off the reliever, who was promoted from the minors Saturday and made his first major league appearance since 2013.
Carrasco followed strong starts by Ryan Merritt and Mike Clevinger in shutting down the Royals. Of course, it helped that he took the mound in the third with a 12-run lead.
And while the Indians have bigger goals that winning their division, manager Terry Francona said it was good to open some distance over a dangerous team.
“We have a lot of respect for their pedigree,” he said. “They’ve been there and done it. I don’t think it’s wrong to have a healthy respect for who you’re playing, as long as you don’t back down. But we did a really good job this weekend. Now, we turn the page real quick because we got a nice road trip coming up.”
The Indians showed no mercy in the second when they teed off on Skoglund and Garcia. The Royals were in a bind after placing scheduled starter Danny Duffy on the disabled list Saturday with a sore elbow.
Already down 3-0, Skoglund gave up a leadoff single before Lindor hit his 24th homer. Austin Jackson followed with a double, and Skoglund yielded a one-out walk before being pulled. Garcia came on and Santana belted his second pitch off the left-field foul pole for his 20th homer.
The Indians loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before Gomes connected for his ninth homer and second career slam.
Cleveland didn’t waste any time getting to Skoglund, who hadn’t pitched for the Royals since June 9 and found himself in a quick 3-0 hole.
Lindor walked and Jackson singled before Jose Ramirez, who came in batting just .130 (3 for 23) on the homestand, pulled an RBI double down the left-field line. Edwin Encarnacion followed with an RBI groundout and Brandon Guyer drove in Cleveland’s third run with a two-out, run-scoring single.
Cleveland leads the majors with 15 shutouts, six of them coming against Kansas City. The Royals have been blanked a baseball-best 13 times.
Lindor’s 24 homers are the second-most in club history for a shortstop. The All-Star batted .360 during the homestand with four homers and seven RBIs.
He also presented his teammates and coaching staff with bath robes.
“I don’t think I’ll ever wear it in public, but I did enjoy it,” Francona cracked.
Royals: An MRI taken on Duffy showed no structural damage and nothing alarming. Manager Ned Yost said his status will be re-evaluated when the team returns home.
Indians: OF Lonnie Chisenhall went 0 for 3 and played left at Double-A Akron as he nears a return from a calf injury. ... OF Abraham Almonte (strained hamstring) is scheduled to play Monday at Triple-A Columbus. ... RHP Danny Salazar will throw off flat ground Monday as he recovers from a stiff elbow that landed him on the disabled list.
Royals: Ian Kennedy, who hasn’t beaten Tampa Bay since his major league debut for the Yankees in 2007, starts the opener of a three-game series. The right-hander is 0-4 against the Rays over the past 10 seasons.
Indians: Corey Kluber can help his Cy Young candidacy on the Yankee Stadium stage as Cleveland opens an 11-game road trip in the Bronx.