Indians fall to 0-1
The Cleveland Indians second attempt at an Opening Day, after Monday's failed due to terrible weather, did not quite go as planned. What started out looking like a battle between aces David Price and Corey Kluber on a frigid 35-degree day ultimately turned into the Tribe's former Cy Young-winner getting roughed up the second and third time through the vicious lineup of the Boston Red Sox.
Both Kluber and Price were masterful in the first couple innings. Price even carried a no-hitter into the fourth (which I, personally, ruined), and Kluber was looking good other than a few scattered hits here and there. It was not until the second time through the order when Kluber began to have trouble, especially against leadoff hitter Mookie Betts.
Betts' two-run home run that scored No. 9 hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. opened the scoring of the game and signaled what the next few innings of the game would be like for Kluber -- a whole lot of difficulty. Kluber was finally knocked out of the game after five and two-thirds innings following a wild pitch and a walk against back-to-back opponents. To their credit, everyone in the bullpen not named Trevor Bauer held tight for the rest of the game (including newcomer Ross Detwiler surviving a bases-loaded situation in the seventh), but the Indians offense was not there late in the game to mount a comeback.
For the most part, the offense looked lethargic, especially once they lost the lead after tying it 2-2. The one shining aspect of the lineup was Mike Napoli, who consistently made Price work for his outs. Napoli fought through a 15-pitch at-bat in the fourth inning that helped the Tribe score their only two runs of the game. The back-to-back combination of Napoli and Carlos Santana should be very annoying throughout the season if it does not end up being downright deadly. Napoli wearing down a pitcher and Santana either doing the same or knocking runners home with a moonshot should be a common sight over the next 161 games.
Speaking of Santana, he showed some great baserunning in that run-scoring fourth inning. He made it all the way from first to third on a hit by Marlon Byrd that barely made it into the outfield. For any runner not with his head up and showing great awareness, he probably would have been stuck at third, or even second base. But Santana saw the opportunity and he was flying from the moment the ball left Byrd's bat.
One of the biggest questions heading into today's game (and the season) is how the outfield would hold up and it... wasn't pretty. Defensively, they were not challenged much. Byrd had a great grab in the outfield that he had to track down deep into left field, but other than that it was mostly routine balls that probably would have been home runs knocked down by heavy winds.
The entire outfield group (including Naquin who debuted with a pinch-hit opportunity) were a combined 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts. If the Indians are going to avoid yet another slow start, they need the group to do better over the next week while Chisenhall and Brantley recover. Otherwise, the Indians will have a huge hole to dig out of when everyone is healthy again in May.
It may not be the outcome we wanted, but baseball is back. At least for a day I would say it's okay to accept a loss and still be happy. Maybe not if you were there and freezing to death, but for me, sitting under my daughter's warm Frozen blanket, it was a constant joy.
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