Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kouzmanoff's Grand Slam Lifts Tribe

Kouzmanoff's Grand Slam on 1st Major League Pitch Lifts Indians Over Rangers 6-5


The Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas - Kevin Kouzmanoff stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded for his first major league at bat, and his Cleveland Indians teammates had the audacity to predict a grand slam for the rookie.

Kouzmanoff, subbing for grand slam master Travis Hafner, homered with the bases loaded on the first major league pitch he faced, and the Indians went on to stretch their winning streak to five games with a 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.

"Everybody in the dugout was saying he was about to do it," Indians starter Cliff Lee said. "It's pretty impressive to do it on the first pitch he faced in the big leagues. He wasn't scared. He went up there and hit his pitch."

With Hafner out due to a bruised right hand, Kouzmanoff made a smashing major league debut as a designated hitter a few hours after he was called up from Triple-A Buffalo.
Kouzmanoff had a few nervous moments on Saturday afternoon when his flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International was delayed, but he reached the ballpark in time for batting practice.
It wasn't long before he was circling the bases on his grand slam, just like Hafner has done six times this season to tie a major league record.

"I don't really remember running around the bases," Kouzmanoff said. "I couldn't believe I did it. It hasn't sunk in yet. I still can't believe I did it."

Grady Sizemore led off the game with a homer for the fourth time this season and seventh of his career.

The Indians loaded the bases later in the first against Rangers starter Edinson Volquez (1-4). Kouzmanoff knocked Volquez's first pitch over the center field wall to give the Indians a 5-0 lead.

"He went up there ready to hit and got on one," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "Obviously it was a huge lift for us. It was a big hit early and it ended up being the difference in the ball game."

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