Six-time All-Star catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. makes his big- league managerial debut tonight when the Cleveland Indians host the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a three-game weekend series at Progressive Field.
He replaces manager Manny Acta, who was dismissed Thursday. Alomar was hired as interim manager and will be among the candidates considered for the full- time position after the end of the season.
Acta, hired by the Indians after the 2009 season, led the team to an AL-worst record of 65-91 through Wednesday.
"The Cleveland Indians would like to thank Manny Acta for everything he has done for the organization in his three seasons as our manager," Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Antonetti said. "Manny's passion for the game, positive attitude and tremendous knowledge of baseball helped guide us to a number of high points during his tenure.
"Managerial changes are never easy or taken lightly, but as we approached the end of the season and turned our attention to assessing the year, we determined a change was necessary."
Acta was 214-266 record over three seasons with Cleveland.
Alomar has been a part of the Indians' coaching staff since 2010 and served as the club's bench coach over the last two seasons. He played 11 seasons with Cleveland (1990-2000) and was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2009.
Left-hander David Huff makes his fifth appearance and third start for the Indians in 2012 while aiming for his third win.
The 28-year-old beat the Royals, 15-4, in his most recent outing on Sept. 23, allowing three hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings.
The win upped Huff's career record against Kansas City to 3-2 in five starts with a 4.91 earned run average in 29 1/3 innings.
Tonight will be his second home start this season, following a 4 1/3-inning stint against Minnesota on Sept. 18, in which he allowed three runs on seven hits in a 6-5 Cleveland loss.
For the Royals, rookie lefty Will Smith faces the Indians for the third time in his 16th big-league start.
The 23-year-old Georgian beat them, 5-3, in his last appearance on Sept. 22 after allowing two runs on eight hits in seven innings.
In a previous meeting on May 29 in Cleveland, he gave up two runs on four hits in six innings of an 8-2 triumph, his first major-league win.
Smith is 4-3 in eight road starts in 2012.
On Thursday in Detroit, a bases-loaded groundout in the bottom of the ninth by Alex Avila plated Don Kelly with the winning run, as the Tigers completed a four-game sweep over the Royals with a 5-4 victory at Comerica Park.
Kelvin Herrera entered the game with runners on first and second with one out, then Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas bobbled a Jhonny Peralta grounder, leaving the bases loaded. Avila followed with a sharp grounder to first, and though KC first baseman Brayan Pena made a diving stop and tagged the bag, pinch-runner Kelly scored easily.
It made a winner of Joaquin Benoit (5-3), who served up a game-tying homer to Billy Butler in the top of the ninth.
Tim Collins (5-4) took the loss, charged with the deciding run while recording just one out.
On Wednesday in Chicago, Shin-Soo Choo's run-scoring groundout in the seventh inning proved to be the difference, as the Indians took down the White Sox, 6-4, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Vinny Rottino hit a solo homer for the Indians, who went 3-3 on a six-game road trip. Jason Kipnis had two RBI and a run scored.
Cleveland starter Justin Masterson allowed four runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings. Tony Sipp (1-2) recorded the final out in the sixth to pick up the win.
The Royals won nine of the initial 15 games between the teams in 2012, including two of three in a series at Kansas City from Sept, 21-23.