Tribe Holds on for Home Opener Victory; Indians 3, Royals 2
Bob Toth | On 06, Apr 2018
With the way the runs were pouring in during the first inning of the Cleveland Indians’ home opener on Friday afternoon, few could have projected that the scoring would come to a screeching halt. The 3-2 score after one frame would prove to be the final score as the Indians held on to defeat the Kansas City Royals.
It looked like it was going to be another shaky start for Carlos Carrasco on the mound for the Tribe, but the veteran right-hander was able to dodge and weave his way through six innings to keep a one-run lead intact. But it was a tough first that put the Indians in a hole before they could step into the batter’s box.
Carrasco got into trouble with the first batter of the game as Jon Jay dropped a single to center. Whit Merrifield drove a 1-1 pitch to right for a double, moving Jay to third. A groundout to second by Mike Moustakas on the next pitch pushed across Jay to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Lucas Duda, the team’s top RBI man through four games, added to his tally with a single to right to drive in Merrifield to give the Royals a two-run lead. Carrasco got out of the jam by getting Cheslor Cuthbert to ground to Francisco Lindor at short and he started a 6-4-3 double play.
Danny Duffy got the call for the Royals to make his second start of the season, but he immediately pitched himself into his own trouble. Lindor drew a four-pitch walk and Jason Kipnis followed with a six-pitch walk of his own. Jose Ramirez notched his second hit of the season with a single to center to score Lindor to make it a 2-1 game. Five pitches later, Edwin Encarnacion drew the third walk of the first to load the bases for newly activated Michael Brantley, and the two-time All-Star outfielder jumped on the first pitch and singled to right, plating both Kipnis and Ramirez to give the Indians a 3-2 lead. Duffy would settle down, getting Brandon Guyer to strike out, Yonder Alonso to line out, and Yan Gomes to ground out to end the threat.
After that mess of a first, both pitchers settled in. Each fired three perfect innings to follow, and the only man to reach in the fifth was Lindor on a third strike wild pitch. In the sixth, however, both teams found the hit column and the Royals made a legitimate threat to tie the game or even take the lead.
With Carrasco still on the bump, Drew Butera led off the inning with a single to right. A single to center by Jay put two on and Merrifield sacrificed both men up 90 feet. Moustakas was intentionally walked to load the bases and Carrasco worked out of it, striking out Duda on a 3-2 pitch before getting Cuthbert to fly out to Brantley in left, leaving the score 3-2.
Carrasco would turn the game over to the bullpen in the seventh as Tribe skipper Terry Francona went to Nick Goody. He allowed a one-out single but no further harm. The Indians made their own threat in the bottom of the frame as Rajai Davis led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a groundout by Lindor. Kipnis lined to third for the second out before Ramirez drew an intentional walk and picked off second base. With a base open, Ned Yost opted to pitch to Encarnacion and the decision worked as he grounded out to third to end the inning.
The Royals’ first two batters reached in the eighth against Andrew Miller, who walked Jay before a single by Merrifield. But with his back against the wall in the one-run game, the Tribe’s All-Star reliever buckled down and struck out Moustakas, Duda, and Cuthbert in order. Kansas City had another chance in the ninth when Jorge Soler drew a leadoff walk off of closer Cody Allen, but Alex Gordon struck out swinging before Alcides Escobar grounded into a double play.
The Indians (3-4) started the home schedule right with a victory, ending a two-game losing skid and pulling them a game closer to the .500 mark. With the loss, the Royals (1-4) dropped to 1-2 on the road to start the 2018 slate.
Carrasco (2-0) worked six innings in the win for the Tribe, allowing the two first inning runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Despite a 5.40 ERA in his first two starts, he has earned a pair of wins. Duffy (0-2) dropped his second straight start to open the year. He retired two men in the sixth before getting the hook and put up threes across his stat sheet – he allowed three runs on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts on 99 pitches.
The scuffling Indians offense managed just four hits, with half of them coming in the three-run first. Ramirez and Brantley each singled, while Guyer and Davis both hit doubles. The top two hitters in the Royals lineup, Jay and Merrifield, had two hits apiece and accounted for both runs scored.
Prior to the game, several members of the Indians were presented with the hardware that they won at season’s end, including Silver Slugger Awards for Ramirez and Lindor and the Cy Young Award won by Corey Kluber.
The two teams will return to action on Saturday afternoon in another 4:10 PM ET start. Trevor Bauer (0-0, 3.60 ERA) and Ian Kennedy (0-0, 1.50) will be the pitching matchup. Bauer went five innings his last time out, allowing two runs on five hits. Kennedy is 2-5 in his career against the Indians, but is coming off of a quality start and no-decision his last time out.
The long awaited answers to the Home Opener addition of Tribe Trivia are here. How did you fare?
I notched the first hit, run batted in, and home run in Jacobs Field history. Who am I?
-Seattle’s Eric Anthony hit a sacrifice fly in the first for the first RBI. He got the first hit in the 3rd with a two-out solo homer off of Dennis Martinez.
Drawing a walk, I was the first Indians player to reach base successfully at Jacobs Field. Who am I?
–Kenny Lofton led off the bottom of the first with a free pass, but he was caught stealing during the next at bat.
I recorded the Indians’ first hit in their new home, a single to right in the eighth inning to break up Seattle future Hall of Fame left-hander Randy Johnson‘s no-hitter. Who am I?
–Sandy Alomar Jr. broke up Johnson’s Opening Day no-hitter attempt with a one-out single after Candy Maldonado led off the inning with a walk. The pair would come in to score in the next at bat.
I was the starting third baseman for the Indians, going 0-for-2 with a walk in three plate appearances. Who am I?
–Mark Lewis, the Indians’ first round draft pick in 1988, got the starting nod at third base against the left-hander Randy Johnson and not Jim Thome, as some might have believed.
I drove in the first runs of the Jacobs Field era for the Indians with a two-run double off of Johnson to tie the game in the eighth. Who am I?
–Manny Ramirez delivered the tying runs in the eighth against Johnson with his two-run double to left.
Wayne Kirby pinch-ran in the tenth inning for Manny Ramirez, scoring the tying run that inning and knocking in the winning run the next frame. Who scored the winning run?
-Free agent addition Eddie Murray crossed the plate from third base on Kirby’s single to left.
“The Big Unit” threw 114 pitches over eight innings of work for the Mariners. How many strikeouts did he tally against the big bats of the Tribe lineup?
-Better remembered for his large strikeout totals at career’s end, Johnson also dealt with some control issues at times. He struck out just two Tribe batters on April 4, 1994, and walked five.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images