KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It might be a good thing for Whit Merrifield that he isn’t familiar with the term “flash in the pan.”
Perhaps he’ll never have to learn it.
The 27-year-old Royals rookie hit his first career homer Monday night and helped turn three important double plays, backing a strong performance by Edinson Volquez as Kansas City beat the Cleveland Indians 2-1 to end a five-game skid against its division rival.
“I wasn’t planning on coming here and going back,” said Merrifield, who made his big league debut last month and has gradually gone from being a super-utility player to the everyday second baseman. “You want to come here and play like you’re capable of playing.”
Alcides Escobar drove in Merrifield to provide the other run for the Royals, who have won three in a row after an eight-game skid. They also won their seventh consecutive game at Kauffman Stadium.
Volquez (6-6) walked the bases loaded in the first inning before settling down, allowing only a double to Jason Kipnis and a single to Lonnie Chisenhall. Volquez also hit a batter with a pitch and worked around an error, but ultimately kept the Indians from scoring.
“He had a great game,” Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “He had a plan and he executed.”
Kelvin Herrera allowed a leadoff homer to Kipnis in the eighth but navigated the rest of the inning. Wade Davis pitched around a leadoff single in the ninth for his 18th save.
Carlos Carrasco (2-2) gave up both Kansas City runs and 10 hits over six innings.
“He bobbed and weaved,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He had a lot of traffic early and for the most part he got out of it. As he got into the third and fourth innings, he started pitching more effectively. He hung a breaking ball for the home run, but he was much better. Giving up two runs in six innings, most nights we’ll take that.”
Merrifield tripled to start the game and scored on Escobar’s single. Then he lived up to his “Two-hit Whit” moniker by driving an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall with two outs in the fourth.
He was greeted at the dugout by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who playfully doffed his helmet.
“This kid is not a flash in the pan. His swing works here,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He just really gives you good at-bats.”
Good fielding, too. Merrifield has played third base and in the outfield, but has been at his best at second base. One of his double plays Monday night ended the eighth and preserved a 2-1 lead.
The Indians had plenty of opportunities, even after Chisenhall grounded out to leave the bases full in the first inning. Kipnis was left standing on second in the third, and the Indians left runners at the corners in the fourth when Rajai Davis grounded out to end the inning.
Yan Gomes squandered another chance by grounding into an inning-ending double play in the sixth, and Jose Ramirez did likewise when he grounded to Merrifield in the eighth.
“We just weren’t able to cash in,” Francona said.