CLEVELAND -- The Indians have not had many days like this throughout this difficult season. With Cleveland's offseason rapidly approaching, the ballclub will soak it in, enjoy a rare lopsided victory and look to end this year as positively as possible.
Days like these can ease some of the pain left over from the second-half collapse.
On Sunday afternoon, anticipated rain clouds disappeared, the sun came out, and the Indians rolled to a 15-3 rout of the Royals at Progressive Field. The win was essentially sealed by a relentless 10-run outbreak in the fifth inning, paving the way for the Tribe's fifth win in the past seven games.
That is as many wins in one week as Cleveland had in all of August.
"It's kind of a change for us now," Indians utility man Jason Donald said. "Even though there's so few games left, I think guys are kind of looking at this with a different lease for the remainder of the season. Today was certainly a great day for us."
The victory also gave the Indians (67-92) their second straight series win -- something the club had not done since taking sets against the Orioles and Angels from June 28-July 4. At that point in the season, Cleveland was still within a couple games of first place in the American League Central.
Tribe fans do not need to be reminded about the two months that followed.
The Indians are only trying to look forward.
"It's always good to win games," interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said, "especially when you give young guys opportunities to play and they perform. You feel good about it and say, 'That's great for them.' It's something you can build confidence from.
"I think it's very important to finish on a great note. Right now, the guys are playing hard. They're pushing it. I think the offense and the pitching is giving us a chance."
Rookie starter Zach McAllister (6-8) picked up the win for the Indians after holding the Royals (71-88) to three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander blanked Kansas City for five innings before surrendering a two-run homer to Alex Gordon in the sixth, and later an RBI single to Tony Abreu in the seventh.
By then, Cleveland had built more than enough of a cushion.
"That was definitely nice to have," McAllister said with a smile.
Royals righty Luke Hochevar (8-16) limited the Indians to one RBI single by Lou Marson through the first four frames before unraveling in the fifth. That's when Cleveland unleashed a 10-run, six-hit outburst that staked the club to an 11-0 lead. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera highlighted the offensive explosion with a two-out grand slam.
Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis ignited the rally with back-to-back doubles, which were followed by a bunt single by Cabrera. Jack Hannahan doubled home a run two batters later, Casey Kotchman drove in a run with a fielder's choice groundout, and Hochevar did some more damage by hitting Donald with a pitch with the bases loaded.
"In that fifth, when [Hochevar] did make a mistake," Donald said, "it seemed like we always capitalized on it. The credit goes to all the guys who did the damage."
After Choo used a two-run single to push Cleveland to a 7-0 lead, Hochevar bowed out of the ballgame with 4 2/3 innings logged. Kipnis then drew a walk from reliever Everett Teaford to load the bases. That set the stage for Cabrera, who drilled a 1-1 pitch over Progressive Field's 19-foot wall in left for a grand slam, the shortstop's 16th homer of the season.
"That was the pitch I was looking for," Cabrera said of the fastball he tattooed. "We did really good in that inning. We took a really good approach, and we swung at really good pitches."
One day after turning in a 3-for-21 showing with runners in scoring position as a team in a 14-inning loss to Kansas City, Cleveland went 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the fifth inning alone.
For good measure, Matt LaPorta contributed a two-run double in the seventh and Cord Phelps added an RBI single in a two-run eighth. All together, Cleveland matched a season high with 19 hits, marking the most collected in a home game since July 30, 2008.
"We needed one of those hits yesterday," Alomar said with a slight laugh. "The guys were not trying to do anything extraordinary. They just tried to do the necessary thing to keep the rally going. They were not getting big.
"They were using what the pitcher was giving them and they stayed within themselves."
Maybe there is just something about seeing that Royals blue for the Tribe.
The 10-run inning was Cleveland's first double-digit showing in one frame since May 16, 2011, also against Kansas City. The Indians' last inning with at least 10 runs scored at home was, again, against the Royals on Aug. 13, 2006. The Tribe has had eight games with 10 or more runs this season. Four of those have come against K.C.
"It just got away in a hurry," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "A 10-run fifth. That's not good for your business."
But it was good for the Tribe's spirits.