CLEVELAND (AP) -- Omar Vizquel has suddenly found a home-run
swing as golden as his glove.
"He's going to catch (Barry) Bonds if he keeps this going," joked Indians manager Charlie Manuel.
Vizquel hit a three-run homer and Ryan Drese struck out 10 in eight dominant innings Saturday night, giving the Cleveland Indians a 4-1 win over the Kansas City Royals in the second game of a day-night doubleheader.
Vizquel homered in the fifth inning off Darrell May (0-1) and
got his fourth RBI on a bases-loaded walk in the sixth.
After hitting just two homers in 611 at-bats last season,
Vizquel connected for his sixth homer of 2002 in the fifth. It's
only May, and the nine-time Gold Glove winning shortstop is just
three homers shy of matching his career high set in 1996.
"It's fun for me," said Vizquel, batting .400 (28-for-70) in his last 20 games. "I'm not only hitting the ball well, but I'm hitting the long ball. I don't remember any time in my career having six homers right now."
Drese (4-3), whose last scheduled start was rained out, hadn't
pitched in 12 days. But the right-hander showed no rust and used a
nasty split-finger fastball and slider to keep the Royals
off-balance and flailing at the chilly air.
The rookie right-hander allowed four hits as Cleveland snapped a
five-game losing streak against Kansas City.
"It was one of those days when I really didn't know what was
going to happen," Drese said. "But I finished a lot of hitters
off. I don't think I'm going to strike out 10 every night, though."
The 26-year-old Drese helped salvage the split with his best outing, setting a career high for innings pitched and walking just one. His 10 strikeouts were the most by an Indians pitcher this season.
"I'm sure this is the highlight of his major league career -- by
far," said Kansas City first baseman Mike Sweeney, who went
0-for-3 and struck out once against Drese.
Wickman worked the ninth for his ninth save.
The switch-hitting Vizquel, who bulked up this winter, is batting .378 (17-for-45) against left-handers this year after hitting a combined .223 against them the past two seasons.
Vizquel has been the only consistent hitter on the Indians, who
have struggled to score all season.
"He didn't just give us a lift," Manuel said. "He was our offense."
The Indians added a run in the sixth but again failed to tack on
when Ricky Gutierrez grounded out with the bases loaded. Cleveland
is hitting just .139 (5-for-36) with the bases full.
May made his first start since April 13. He was activated from
the disabled list before the game. The left-hander was making just
his second major league start since 1997 after pitching in Japan
for four years.
Drese's 10 strikeouts were the most by an Indians rookie
right-hander since Albie Lopez fanned 11 in 1994. ... Fans braved
football-type weather as the temperatures dipped into the upper