Jeremy Guthrie, Royals blank Indians in doubleheader opener

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nobody thought much of it when the Kansas City Royals sent Jonathan Sanchez to the Colorado Rockies last season for Jeremy Guthrie in a swap of struggling starters.

These days, the Royals look like they got a steal.

Guthrie kept the Indians guessing on Sunday while pitching into the seventh inning, and Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon homered to help Kansas City to a 9-0 rout of Cleveland in the opener of the first day-night doubleheader in the history of Kauffman Stadium.

Guthrie (3-0) allowed six hits over 6 2/3 innings for his 16th consecutive start without a loss, tying the Royals' record set by Paul Splittorff from Aug. 13, 1977-April 22, 1978.

"I knew it's been a number of starts in a row, because people kept reminding me of it," Guthrie said with a smile. "Ultimately, it means a lot because hopefully the guys behind me when I go out are confident that we have a chance to win the game."

Confidence was perhaps the biggest thing that Guthrie was missing last season in Colorado. He was just 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA prior to the trade, but went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA the rest of the way in Kansas City, earning a three-year, $25 million contract from the Royals in November.

Guthrie's gone at least six innings in all four of his starts this season.

"I have the kind of confidence I want to go into each start with," he said, "that good stuff or not, I can keep us in it and give us a chance to win the game."

Escobar's solo shot came in the fifth inning and Gordon's two-run homer came in the eighth, capping a big day for the Kansas City offense. Jarrod Dyson also drove in a pair of runs, and Mike Moustakas had a single and three walks -- one with the bases loaded.

"The walks to Moustakas were big," Indians manager Terry Francona conceded.

Justin Masterson (4-2) allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings for the Indians. The right-hander, who entered the game with a 1.85 ERA, was trying to join Bob Lemon, Greg Swindell and Cliff Lee as the only pitchers in franchise history with five wins in April.

Instead, Masterson got roughed up by the bottom of the Royals' lineup.

He walked Moustakas, who was hitting just .152, on four pitches with two outs in the second. Jeff Francoeur and Dyson followed with back-to-back doubles to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead.

Masterson threw four more balls to Moustakas in the fourth -- "I think he had a force field around the strike zone," Masterson quipped afterward -- to walk him again. This time, Francoeur and Dyson made Masterson pay with back-to-back singles for a 3-0 lead.

"Justin Masterson is such a good pitcher, and going into the game, my mind was prepared for a low-scoring affair," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I thought we'd have to squeak out some runs."

So much for that.

Escobar homered on the first pitch he saw in the fifth inning, the solo shot just skirting the foul pole in left for a memorable 500th career hit. The Royals added three more in the seventh, and Gordon's two-run shot off reliever Scott Barnes in the eighth put it away.

"The guys down the bottom of the order you want cranking your offense down there," Yost said, "and then it comes back around to your main guys, and that's where you score big."

The closest the Indians came to scoring against Guthrie was in the second inning.

Carlos Santana hit a drive to center that hit off the green padding atop the wall. The ball bounced back into play and was ruled a double, and the call was upheld when the umpires checked the replay. Santana was left stranded when Guthrie retired Ryan Raburn and Lonnie Chisenhall.

"It was close," Francona said. "I wish it had went about 2 inches further."

Game notes
RHP Corey Kluber (1-0, 1.80 ERA) was starting Game 2 for the Indians, while the Royals recalled LHP Will Smith from Triple-A Omaha to start for them. ... Cleveland put C Lou Marson on the DL (right shoulder strain) and recalled C Yan Gomes and LHP Scott Barnes from Triple-A Columbus prior to Game 1. ... Escobar has a hit in eight straight games.