A steady rain that at times became a downpour certainly put on damper on the Indians' 1,000th game at Jacobs Field. The Kansas City Royals did the rest, overcoming a brief scuffle in their dugout to claim a 4-3 victory -- their first in more than a year in Cleveland. A slight ray of sunshine for the Tribe was the news that slugger Travis Hafner will not need surgery on his right hand.
Before the game, Hafner said a re-examination of his broken right hand revealed that "everything is in line and I do not need surgery."
But the Indians could have used a healthy Hafner's bat in the lineup against Royals right-hander Runelvys Hernandez, who in between exchanging punches with his own catcher, worked five innings for the win.
Nobody in the Royals' clubhouse would say what triggered the fisticuffs, which were caught by TV cameras after Hernandez struck out Ryan Garko to end the third inning. In fact, Hernandez claimed, "nothing happened."
His catcher, John Buck, was not available for comment, and his manager, former Indians star Buddy Bell, downplayed the entire thing.
"There was some sort of misunderstanding," Bell said. "Something was said and both guys are extremely competitive, but they have to have a little more poise there. We met and straightened things out."
The Royals straightened out a few of rookie Jeremy Sowers' pitches to take a 4-1 lead.
Sowers (7-4) gave up four runs and seven hits over five innings in his final start of the season. The 23-year-old, who was Cleveland's first pick in the 2004 draft out of Vanderbilt University, is being shut down to avoid being overworked. He has pitched a combined 185 2-3 innings between Triple-A Buffalo and Cleveland.
"It makes sense, but I feel good and would like to keep pitching," Sowers said. "I would have liked to end on a better note."
Sowers went 9-1 with a 1.39 ERA at Buffalo. He was rather ordinary over his first four starts for Cleveland after being called up June 24 -- then went 6-0 with a 1.93 ERA over nine starts until Tuesday.
"I did a lot of good things and a lot of bad, but I'll correct the mistakes and enhance the positives," Sowers said. "I learned a lot this year. If I thought back about it, I'd be content with how I developed and what I did this season."
Jason Michaels (.275), Shin-Soo Choo (.287) and Jhonny Peralta (.257) all had two of Cleveland's 10 hits off Hernandez and four relievers.