KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ryan Merritt had a notable first start in the majors.
Merritt retired the final 13 batters he faced in five strong innings, Francisco Lindor hit a three-run homer, and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 7-2 Friday night.
Merritt (1-0) gave up a run and three hits in the first, but nothing after that. Merritt, who had made three relief appearances this season and was promoted Sept. 11 from Triple-A Columbus, threw 62 pitches, striking out four and walking none.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” Merritt said. “I was definitely nervous.”
After three of the first four Royals singled, Merritt got Paulo Orlando to ground into an inning double play on a cutter, which he said “absolutely” was his biggest pitch of the game.
“That got me through the first inning,” Merritt said.
After that the Royals did not touch him.
“He doesn’t seem to get flustered,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That was impressive. I was really thrilled. I think everybody was excited for him. The first couple of hitters hit the ball hard, but he didn’t back off.”
Lindor, who snapped an 0-for-29 drought with a double in a four-run third, homered off the left-field foul pole with pinch runner Michael Martinez and Carlos Santana aboard in the seventh.
“To be honest, I thought about it a lot,” Lindor said of his skid. “There were a lot of times, I was going, ‘like wow, I wonder how long before I get a hit?’ “
Santana, who had three hits, tripled in two runs in the fourth and scored on Jason Kipnis’ sacrifice fly. Jose Ramirez singled with two outs to score Lindor.
Yordano Ventura (11-12) gave up four runs and six hits with three walks while striking out eight in six innings.
“I lost concentration and just started throwing fastballs,” Ventura said in through an interpreter in the four-run third. “After that I got back to my game and mixed it up.”
Eric Hosmer singled in a run in the first, upping his RBI total to a career-high 104. The Royals, who had three singles in the first, did not have another base runner until Hunter Dozier singled with one out in the eighth. He scored on Drew Butera’s triple.
“We had three hits in the first third of an inning,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I’m thinking, ‘OK, we’re going to get him’ and you look up on the board and we don’t get another hit until the eighth inning.”
Indians C Yan Gomes, who suffered a right shoulder separation in July and a fractured wrist on Sept. 14 when rehabbing in the minors, was activated from the 60-day disabled list. Gomes entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (broken little finger on his pitching hand) was put on the 60-day DL to make roster space for Gomes. … RHP Corey Kluber (strained quadriceps) threw in the outfield before the game, but there is no timetable when he will throw off the mound again. … RHP Danny Santana (forearm tightness) could throw a simulated game Monday.
Royals: DH Kendrys Morales had only two at-bats Thursday before leaving with a fever and feeling sick, but returned to the lineup Friday.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer, who will likely start the postseason opener Thursday, will make his final regular season start.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez, who had a 7.77 ERA in five September starts, makes his sixth start of the season against Cleveland.