Sizemore's return figures to help teammates, too
Indians manager Manny Acta said one of the benefits of having Grady Sizemore back with the team is that it gives the lineup added depth. That dimension was on display Monday night in Kansas City, when the Indians beat the Royals 7-3 in 10 innings.
Sizemore, back in his familiar spot hitting leadoff, was once again the catalyst for the team's offense in just his second game after coming off the disabled list. He went 3-for-5, and No. 2 hitter Asdrubal Cabrera went 2-for-5 behind him, as the table-setters did their job.
Sizemore, who homered and doubled in his 2011 debut Sunday, is now hitting .556 (5-for-9) in his first two games since being activated. He has two doubles, a home run, two runs and two RBI.
The addition of Sizemore to the lineup gives the Indians another weapon and takes some of the pressure off the other hitters. Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana, two of the team's best hitters, have both struggled in the early going, but if Sizemore keeps getting on base, both should see better pitches.
The return of Sizemore also pushes Michael Brantley into the bottom third of the order. Brantley, who hit in the leadoff spot while Sizemore was on the DL, has made a smooth transition.
Brantley, hitting seventh Monday night, was 1-for-3 with two walks, a stolen base and a run. He brings some speed and a solid bat -- he is hitting .304 -- to the lower end of the order.
--CF Grady Sizemore hasn't missed a beat since returning to the lineup after missing nearly a year due to microfracture knee surgery. In the Indians' 7-3 win over Kansas City on Monday night, Sizemore was 3-for-5. In two games since coming off the disabled list, he is 5-for-9 (.556), including two doubles, a home run, two runs and two RBI. Sizemore's home run Sunday was his first since Aug. 27, 2009. He did not hit a home run last year in 128 at-bats before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
--OF Shelley Duncan continues to earn his keep as the Indians' top pinch hitter. Duncan's pinch RBI double in the 10th inning broke 3-3 tie in what became a 7-3 Indians win in 10 innings Monday night over Kansas City. As a pinch hitter this season, Duncan is 2-for-2 with three RBI.
--RHP Joe Smith pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to get the win Monday night in the Indians' 7-3 victory at Kansas City. It was Smith's first win since Sept. 18, also at Kansas City.
--DH Travis Hafner is fifth in the AL in slugging percentage (.620), seventh in batting average (.353) and tied for seventh in home runs (four). In the month of April last year, Hafner had two home runs, a .209 batting average and a .343 slugging percentage. After battling a shoulder injury the last three years, Hafner is off to his best start since 2007. "He's capable of doing this if he's healthy," manager Manny Acta said. "His bat speed is back."
--RHP Fausto Carmona gave up 10 runs in three innings on Opening Day, but in his last three starts, he has a 1.25 ERA. Carmona's record is a deceiving 1-2. "In his last three starts, he's given us a chance to win every game," manager Manny Acta said.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1999 -- The last year the Indians started a season with a record of 12-4, their record following Monday night's win.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Last year I didn't see this, and later came to understand that he was hurt from the get-go." -- Manager Manny Acta, on OF Grady Sizemore, who is 5-for-9, including a home run and two doubles, in his first two games back after missing nearly a year due to microfracture knee surgery.
--RHP Mitch Talbot (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 12. Manager Manny Acta said Talbot could be gone longer than the minimum two weeks.
--3B Jason Donald (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Akron on April 10, and moved his rehab to Class AAA Columbus on April 14. He likely will miss the season's first month.
--OF Trevor Crowe (right shoulder surgery in March 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 30. He will be out until at least late July.