Homers Key Opening Day Victory; Indians 7, Twins 2
Steve Eby | On 04, Apr 2014
The 21st home opener in Progressive Field history got started over two hours later than expected, but the outcome was well worth the wait as the Indians (3-1) came from behind for the third time this season to defeat the Minnesota Twins (1-3) by a score of 7-2. The victory snapped the Indians five game losing streak in home openers, as the team tallied their first opener-win since 2008.
On the 20th anniversary of the opening of the ballpark formerly known as Jacobs Field, Twins starter Mike Pelfrey (0-1, 5.06) did his best Randy Johnson impression as he took a perfect game into the fifth inning. It wasn’t until a Carlos Santana double in the fifth that the Tribe got a baserunner and it took until the sixth for the Tribe to break through on the scoreboard.
It wasn’t until around 7:00 pm that the sellout crowd got excited, but the Tribe finally played longball off of Pelfrey in the bottom of the sixth. First, Yan Gomes led off the inning with a deep drive into the centerfield bullpen for his first round-tripper of the year and cut the Twins 2-0 lead in half. After Lonnie Chisenhall worked a walk and Nyjer Morgan sacrificed him to second with a bunt, Nick Swisher launched a moonshot deep into right field to give the Indians a 3-2 advantage.
In the seventh, the bats kept rolling. Gomes once again got the inning going with a single and Lonnie Chisenhall moved him to third with his first double of the season. Morgan, in his Progressive Field debut with the Tribe, then moved them both along with a single to right. As Caleb Thielbar relieved, Swisher continued his big day by smoking a double off of the wall in center, bringing Chisenhall around for a 5-2 lead. Michael Brantley then put on an exclamation point, bringing both runners home with a single to center, putting the score at it’s final of 7-2.
Prior to the Indians outburst, the Minnesota offense got to Tribe pitcher Danny Salazar (0-0, 3.18), who was the youngest Indian starting pitcher for a home opener since Dennis Eckersley, early. The first hitter of the game, Brian Dozier, roped a double into center on a missed half-diving attempt by Morgan. After a Joe Mauer fly ball moved him to third, Dozier came home on a Josh Willingham sacrifice fly. The next batter then capped off the inning, as Chris Colabello lifted a homerun to right to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.
Things could have gotten worse for the Tribe in the second if it hadn’t been for some excellent defense. Catcher Kurt Suzuki was the first to reach base with a one out walk and then moved into scoring position on a single by Pedro Florimon. Dozier then hammered the next pitch into left for another single, but Brantley was able to fire a strike home to retire Suzuki for the third out of the inning.
Salazar continued to get hit into the fourth, as Dozier roped a one out single for his third hit in as many at bats. Mauer then launched a double into the right-centerfield gap, putting runners at second and third with just one out. He battled out of trouble for the second time in the game and then got right back into it when the Twins loaded the bases in the fifth. Again, Salazar battled through without allowing a run and was eventually pulled in the middle of the sixth when he was relieved by lefthander Josh Outman. For the day, Salazar struggled throughout but only allowed the two first inning runs on seven hits with three walks in 5.2 innings of work.
The victory went to Outman (1-0, 0.00), who worked 0.2 innings to steal the win in his Indians home debut.
The series will continue on Saturday as Carlos Carrasco (1-4, 6.75 in 2013) will make his first start of the 2014 season and take on right hander Kyle Gibson (2-4, 6.53 in 2013). The game is scheduled to start at 1:05 pm and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. The broadcast will be the new network’s first ever Major League broadcast. In addition, the game can also be heard on the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Mark Duncan/AP Photo