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CLE@KC: Odorizzi hurls 5 1/3 innings in his MLB debut

KANSAS CITY -- Consider Jake Odorizzi's Major League debut a success.

He didn't win the game -- the Cleveland Indians wound up with a 15-4 victory over Kansas City on a lovely Sunday afternoon -- but the 22-year-old Royals right-hander pitched superbly for five innings before giving up three runs in the sixth.

"I think he did an outstanding job for his first start," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

As the Royals' top-ranked pitching prospect according to MLB.com, Odorizzi gave the 22,960 fans at Kauffman Stadium reason to anticipate the good that he might do for the club in the future. When he left the mound during the sixth inning, they gave him a standing ovation.

"It was pretty moving, just to hear the cheers," Odorizzi said. "They were very accepting of me and it was great to get that on the way out. Especially on the first day, it made it just that much more special."

Odorizzi's first pitch at 1:10 p.m. CT was high and outside for a ball. His second pitch was swung at and missed by Shin-Soo Choo. His third pitch was fouled off. His fourth pitch was lined into left field for a single. Welcome to the Major Leagues, Jake.

"I gave up that first one and I think that kind of settled me down a little bit. I started making pitches and things went pretty well from there," Odorizzi said.

Indeed, Odorizzi made himself right at home. He breezed through the next 18 batters with hardly a glitch. He got his first strikeout on the second batter, Jason Kipnis. Second baseman Johnny Giavotella helped out with a diving snag of Carlos Santana's smash in short right field and threw him out. In the third, Odorizzi helped himself with a twisting grab of Ezequiel Carrera's chopper behind the mound and got the ball to first baseman Eric Hosmer.

"I thought the ball was going to come straight to me on the mound and it went over my head, so I had to take a few hard steps back and try to make the throw on the run," he said.

So he showed off his defensive skills, too.

In the meantime, the Royals were having their own difficulties with left-hander David Huff. But in the bottom of the third, catcher Adam Moore gave his batterymate from Triple-A Omaha a 1-0 lead with a home run high over the left-field wall on a 2-0 pitch.

That was Moore's first at-bat in a Royals uniform and was his first big league homer since Sept. 7, 2010, when he connected for Seattle at Oakland.

"A lot of power, he showed it off in his first at-bat," Odorizzi said. "I was extremely happy for Adam. He did a great job behind the plate with me, and to come up and hit a home run in his first AB here was pretty awesome."

The Indians didn't have another baserunner until Choo singled again in the third inning. Odorizzi issued his first walk in the fifth inning to Jack Hannahan. With 22 pitches in the inning, however, his total jumped from 50 to 72.

Choo flied out to start the sixth, but Odorizzi would not make it through the inning, or get another out, for that matter.

"I left some pitches up in the zone a few times, and those were the pitches that got hit," Odorizzi said. "But for a majority of the game, I was hitting my spots. I was happy with everything up until that point. I would like to have that sixth inning back, but you just can't do that."

It happened quickly.

Kipnis tripled down the right-field line and scored on Asdrubal Cabrera's single to right. On Odorizzi's next pitch, Carlos Santana pounded a drive into the right-field bullpen, a two-run homer for a 3-1 Indians lead.

When Michael Brantley followed with a single, Yost decided the rookie had done enough. Francisley Bueno ended the inning without further damage, so Odorizzi gave up three runs, six hits and one walk with three strikeouts. He threw 87 pitches, 55 for strikes.

But the last five pitchers who toiled for KC were hammered for 12 runs -- five in the seventh and seven in the ninth -- on 10 hits and seven walks with two errors and a missed sun ball thrown into the unsightly mix. Santana capped it off with a three-run homer, giving him five RBIs on his two blasts.

Not only did the loss prevent the Royals from winning five straight games for the first time this season, but it officially eliminated them from playoff contention.

Overriding it all was the encouraging debut by Odorizzi.

"He did a great job of getting ahead of the hitters," Yost said. "They were swinging through 91-mph fastballs like they were 96 mph, so he's created some deception in his delivery, he commanded the ball extremely well. Good enough to warrant another look."

That will come next Saturday night at Cleveland, a rematch with the Indians.

"He's got a sneaky fastball, and he's got a pretty good changeup that kind of fades away, a big slow curveball," Hannahan said. "He's a guy that's going to have to pitch ahead and get ahead of guys, and kind of go from there."

After the game, Odorizzi went out to the field and greeted family and friends from his hometown of Highland, Ill., and posed for some photos on his big day.

"I had a lot of friends and family make it today, and it was pretty cool that I could see them after the game," Odorizzi said. "It kind of made things feel a little bit more real."

Until, of course, the Royals left for Detroit and, as part of the annual hazing ritual, the rookies had to wear outlandish costumes on the trip. Odorizzi would be garbed in a bright green dress.

"It's going to be special, let me tell you," he said.

A special day he won't forget.

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