So far this season the key to victory is Derek Lowe making the start.
It was a festive atmosphere in Kansas City. It was the home opener for the Royals, a beautiful day, and George Brett had just made the ceremonial first pitch. It seemed almost unsporting to ruin those good vibes, but the Indians did it anyway, picking the first inning of the year in Kansas City to let loose an offensive thunder clap.
Truth be told, starter Luke Hochever contributed to the thunder clap. Manager Ned Yost had wanted the former first Royals first round pick to start both Opening Day and the home opener, partly for symbolic reasons. Unfortunately for the Royals, it would turn out that the best news of the day regarding Hochever was that he didn't have a broken bone after being struck by a Carlos Santana line drive in the fourth. The Indians, who had struggled at the plate this young season, looked like a different club from the beginning. Michael Brantley, whose poor spring and slow regular season start probably contributed to the Indians signing Johnny Damon, singled to start the game. Asdrubal Cabrera then doubled. Then Shin-Soo Choo singled them both home. Then, after two outs, and when it seemed the inning was coming to a close, Shelley Duncan hit a BABIP single, scoring Choo, and with that, the offense really let loose. Casey Kotchman singled. Jason Kipnis tripled over Jarrod Dyson's head. Jack Hannahan singled. And Michael Brantley doubled to cap an inning that mostly exists in overactive imaginations.
That one inning was essentially the game. Derek Lowe, handed a huge lead, did exactly what you'd like to see; he gave up three runs on eleven hits, but he pitched into the seventh, and didn't allow the Royals to get back into the game. Tony Sipp got the Indians out of a jam in the seventh by getting protostar Eric Hosmer to ground out to end a second-and-third threat. Joe Smith got out a jam of his own making in the eighth, and Vinnie Pestano retired the Royals in order.
The Indians wouldn't need another run after their seven-run first, and they almost didn't score another, but Asdrubal Cabrera hit a solo homer over the center field wall in the top of the ninth.
The game only counts for one win in the standings, but symbolically it felt like a lot more than that. The Indians collected 11 base hits, four of them for extra bases, and finally showed that they could score runs. It was going to happen sooner or later, but I'm glad that it happened sooner.
Recap to come...