The Cleveland Indians did not just beat Kansas City two in a row. They embarrassed them.
With Carlos Santana and Ascrubal Cabrera hitting home runs and Travis Hafner unloading a three-run double in the top of the first inning Tuesday night, the first-place Indians tacked a 7-2 win onto Monday night's 19-1 spanking and beat KC for the fifth time in a row.
Collectively, this was a 26-4 beatdown by the first-place team the Royals have been hoping to catch up with in the AL Central.
"They outplayed us in every phase of the game the whole series," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "They out-hit us, they out-pitched us, they out-defensed us. They just outplayed us."
Sean O'Sullivan (2-3) went five innings for the loss, giving up six runs on eight hits.
It was a fourth straight loss by the Royals. But at least the series gave them an indication of where they need to improve.
"We need to pitch better, we need to hit better in clutch situations," said Yost. "We need to just play better baseball than we did in this last series. They came in and outplayed us, and that's the name of the game every night. You've got to be better than you opposition, and for the last four nights, we haven't been. We have to find a way to be."
Santana hit a solo home run off O'Sullivan in the fifth and Cabrera made it 7-2 with a leadoff home run in the seventh off left-hander Everett Teaford, who made his major league debut.
Carlos Carrasco (2-2) went 5 1-3 innings for the victory. He was charged with two runs on five hits, with two walks and five strikeouts.
It was the third straight win for the revitalized, first-place Indians and took them to 26-13, the best winning percentage in the majors. At this point a year ago they were 15-24.
O'Sullivan came away with a favorable impression.
"Oh, they're a heck a of ball team right now," he said. "They're playing good defensively right now, they're pitching real well, coming up with key hits."
One bright spot for KC was the continued excellence of rookie first baseman Eric Hosmer. He made an outstanding play at first, triple and scored on Matt Treanor's single and had an RBI single in the sixth, going 2 for 4.
But he also let himself get picked off second on a strong throw from catcher Santana.
In the last four games, including two at Detroit, the Royals have scored just five runs.
"We've kind of hit a little bit of a wall," said Yost. "Offensively, things go in cycles. Before the first Detroit game, we scored 11 runs and then go in and face two good pitchers. That's not an excuse. You've got to find ways to beat good pitchers, too."
O'Sullivan (2-3) got off to a horrible start, giving up a leadoff double to Michael Brantley, hitting Shin-Soo Choo and walking Santana. Hafner then made it 3-0 with a bases-clearing double. He also doubled in the fifth following Santana's home run and scored on a single by Travis Buck, who was called up on Monday when Grady Sizemore went on the disabled list. Orlando Cabrera singled in the fourth and eventually scored on Brantley's sacrifice fly.
Teaford, called up from Triple-A Omaha to replace Vin Mazzaro, the right-hander who was charged with 14 runs on Monday, went 1 1-3 innings and allowed two hits, including Cabrera's home run.
"I thought he did a real good job," said Yost. "He had a real quick first inning, and then ran into a little bit of trouble after that. I was happy with him."
Santana, who walked three times and doubled in the 19-1 win on Monday, reached base three times with a walk, home run and single while scoring two runs.
Notes: The Royals are taking rookie reliever Nate Adcock out of the bullpen and giving him the start on Sunday against St. Louis. ... After a two-game series in Chicago, the Indians end an unusual four-game road trip and return to Cleveland for a six-game home stand.