After fine performances yesterday from some of the younger players (most notably Moncrief and Lindor), the Tribe fielded more of a veteran starting line-up today, and it's fair to say that, after a slow start, they did not disappoint.
Having recorded just one hit in the first four innings, the Tribe broke the game open in the 5th. Following a single by Murphy, SS Eugenio Suarez booted a routine double-play ball, allowing Aviles to reach. This error was to prove extremely costly, first when Sands singled to load the bases and Martinez scored Murphy on a ground out.
However, that was just the start of the scoring in that inning. Jose Ramirez drove home two more runs with a single to center, after which Gomes smashed a towering homer for two more runs and a 5-1 lead. The Indians then batted around following a walk from Santana (who else?) and a Chisenhall single, but Murphy (who went 2/3 on the day) was unable to add to the scoring.
At that point wholesale changes were made, with most of the veterans being replaced and the appearance of some very young faces such as Bradley Zimmer (who reached base all three times), Nellie Rodriguez, James Roberts, Taylor Murphy and (subsequently) Bobby Bradley and Yu-Cheng Chang.
But that didn't stop the scoring - Zimmer walked to open the 6th and, following a wild pitch, Jerry Sands (who went 2/2 with a walk) singled him to 3rd base, from where Roberts got him back to home plate on a sac fly.
And then in the 7th the Tribe scored three more times after the Reds' replacement SS Carlton Daal sprayed the ball around the infield on successive ABs. After the errors Taylor Murphy recorded a ground-rule double to right field for an RBI and Zimmer tripled him home for a 9-1 lead.
The Tribe's pitchers had a good day overall as well. Trevor Bauer made a solid start to his 2015 season. Although he didn't strike anyone out, he did avoid the first-inning issues that plagued him last season. Overall, he conceded just three hits in three innings and gave up an unearned run after a Chisenhall fielding error that most of us didn't get to see as the STO broadcast went down (again). In part compensation, Gomes mowed down yet another base stealer with a brilliant throw to 2nd base in the 3rd.
After a dreadful 2014 campaign Bruce Chen was surprisingly sharp, striking out the side in order in the 4th and following up with a perfect 5th inning. Not to be outdone, Anthony Swarzak also struck out the side 1-2-3 in the 6th. Although Ryan Merritt recorded a perfect 7th, the Reds did get into him in the 8th - scoring two runs on three hits. Finally, Austin Adams mopped up effectively in the 9th.
Overall, this was a fine team performance from veterans and youngsters alike. The Tribe's long-term future looks brighter right now than it has done for many years. Bring on the Royals tomorrow.