Royals fall behind early, lose 8-3 to Indians

Friday, April 13, 2012 | 9:11 p.m. CDT; updated 9:30 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 13, 2012
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Luke Hochevar, center, is helped off the field by manager Ned Yost, left, and trainer Nick Kenney after being hit by a ball during the fourth inning of a baseball game on Friday in Kansas City.

KANSAS CITY — Luke Hochevar never thought his left ankle was broken, even if that possibility did occur to Royals manager Ned Yost.

"I don't think much was going through my mind," Hochevar said, "other than taking the pain away. That's as solid as I've ever been hit. That sound was echoing through my body."

It echoed through Kauffman Stadium, too.

Hochevar was slammed for seven runs in the first inning Friday, then knocked right out of the game when Carlos Santana lined a pitch off his lower leg in the fourth. It was an altogether miserable afternoon for Kansas City, which lost 8-3 to the Cleveland Indians in its home opener.

"When it hit him, I was real nervous. It got him solid," said Yost, who joined trainer Nick Kenney in helping Hochevar off the field. "I had some fears there it might have fractured his leg, but the X-rays came up negative. He's very sore, but at least it's not broken."

Yost said he's not sure whether Hochevar will be able to make his next start.

"We'll see," he said. "It's five days away."

Michael Brantley had a pair of hits in the opening inning, and Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis each drove in a pair of runs as the Indians scored more times than they had in any of their first five games. Asdrubal Cabrera added a solo homer in the ninth for good measure.

The seven runs allowed by Hochevar (1-1) in the first inning matched the number of runs that Kansas City starters had given up during a six-game road trip to begin the season.

"They came out of the gate swinging, a lot of first-pitch hits," Hochevar said. "After that first inning, we made an adjustment in our game plan, and the results were better. It was more their aggressiveness than a bad game plan."

Derek Lowe (2-0) allowed three runs and 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings for Cleveland. The 38-year-old right-hander routinely worked out of trouble, getting help from a pair of double plays that kept Kansas City from mounting much of a comeback.

"When you're pitching on the road in the other team's home opener, there's going to be a lot of buzz," Lowe said. "To sort of silence them right away, you can't ask for more."

Cleveland batted just .176 during a 1-4 start, but it turned that around in a hurry.

Brantley snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a lead-off single, and Cabrera's double and Choo's two-run single put an early jolt in the Indians' struggling offense.

Shelley Duncan and Casey Kotchman added back-to-back singles later in the first inning, and Kipnis brought in both with a shot to center that Jarrod Dyson — called up to replace the injured Lorenzo Cain — misjudged in the wind as he approached the warning track.

"The wind just kept it away from me, but I should have had it," Dyson said. "That's on me. I've made that play numerous times. I should have made it today."

Brantley's RBI double in his second at-bat of the inning gave Cleveland a 7-0 lead.

The Royals got a run back in the first on three straight hits, including Eric Hosmer's single, but Billy Butler's double-play grounder and Alex Gordon's strikeout ended the threat.

Kansas City got two more in the fourth on a single by Gordon and a shot into the gap in right by Mike Moustakas, but he was left stranded when Humberto Quintero flied out.

Lowe and the Indians' bullpen kept the Royals in check the rest of the way.

"We didn't get off to the start we wanted," Hosmer said, "but it's a long season and we feel like we haven't played our best baseball yet."

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