Meche magnificent, fans 11 to top Tribe
Guillen, Olivo homers, Callaspo's slam back gem
CLEVELAND -- Gil Meche and the Royals sure needed this: a victory -- and a laugher at that.
Letting the good times roll, the Royals frolicked past the Cleveland Indians, 9-0, smacking three home runs in the process on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Alberto Callaspo pounded the first grand slam of his career. Jose Guillen and Miguel Olivo each whacked a two-run homer. All of that came against Indians starter Carl Pavano.
It was a grand time. Meche, with a frenzy of 11 strikeouts, won for the first time since May 3. The Royals notched only their seventh victory in their last 29 games.
As a bonus, they climbed back over the Indians to escape after a one-day stay in the cellar of the American League Central.
"It's been a while since I've had a laugh in my face," Guillen said. "It's been crazy. I don't know what to tell you guys. It was a great win, and it'll put some smiles on people's faces around here. It's not been fun the last few weeks."
In the seventh inning, Meche was working with a couple of dozen gulls from nearby Lake Erie parked in center field. No matter, he upped his strikeout total to 11 with the first out of the inning, matching his career high.
"I knew that. I was trying to get 12, believe me," Meche said.
He didn't, at the end of the inning, he'd made 115 pitches and with a nine-run lead, manager Trey Hillman excused him.
"I didn't want to force the issue. He had a lot of pitches," Hillman said.
The gulls flew away, too. And the bullpen finished up perfectly, a pair of 1-2-3 innings by Ron Mahay and Kyle Farnsworth.
Meche (3-5), in his seven innings, gave up four hits and three walks. The Indians loaded the bases in the fifth, rousing the crowd of 16,257, but Meche got the third out on a deep fly to center by Jamey Carroll.
The odd thing was that he took the mound feeling none too confident.
"The bullpen [session] I threw today was absolutely horrible, but, for some reason, when that happens you usually throw well," Meche said.
Callaspo's slam came in the fifth following singles by Willie Bloomquist, Guillen and Mark Teahen. The two-out liner into the right-field seats came on a 3-1 pitch and ended Pavano's outing. Callaspo also had three singles, logging the first four-hit game of his career.
"I feel great about it, my first grand slam in the big leagues. I'm trying to do my job and help the team," Callaspo said.
His 4-for-4 boosted his average to .311 from .297, a result of a recent slowdown.
"I think I got my swing back and am seeing the ball well," he said.
Guillen's homer followed Billy Butler's leadoff double in the fourth. Olivo's homer came after a Callaspo single in the same inning.
"To put up nine runs the way we've been struggling, put some balls up in the air that got out of here -- it was a good win," Meche said.
It was just the second victory on this nine-game trip that ends here on Thursday night. It was just the second win in the last 12 games, matter of fact.
Or roll back the calendar to May 7, when the Royals were 18-11 and in first place. Since then, their record is 7-22. Even so, Hillman has seen an encouraging sense of purpose.
"Through this whole nightmarish stretch of five weeks, we've continued to play hard," he said, "and that's good to see."
Now there's a 9-0 laugher to enjoy.
"Hopefully we can learn something from today's game and take the momentum from there," Guillen said.
He made another point: "It's been a while since we've won two in a row."
Quite a while. The last back-to-back victories came May 17-19 over Baltimore and Cleveland, the games separated by an open date.
Guillen noted that the Royals have Zack Greinke, with his impressive 8-2 record and 1.55 ERA, pitching in the series finale.
"Hopefully we can go home with a smile on our faces and start playing some real baseball," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.