Home Opener Spoiled by Tribe’s Play; Tigers 8, Indians 4

Did the Tribe Win Last Night? No. Zach McAllister lived dangerously in his first start of the year. He scattered 13 hits in four-plus innings, culminating in a Nick Castellanos two-run home run in the fifth to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead.

The Indians managed to push three runs across in the bottom of the sixth off Tigers starter Alfredo Simon, but gave three right back in the top of the seventh, including two unearned which could be attributed to a throwing error by Marc Rzepczynski.

WP: Simon (1-0)        LP: McAllister (0-1)

Key Inning: Top of the seventh. The Indians’ bats appeared to have awakened in the bottom of the sixth, and the Tribe had pulled within two. Anthony Swarzak came on for his second inning of work, and gave up a leadoff single to Yoenis Cespedes before getting Castellanos to fly out to center field, moving Cespedes to second. Manager Terry Francona brought in Rzepczynski, who got Alex Avila to strike out swinging for the second out. A wild pitch by Rzepczynski let Cespedes take third, and Jose Iglesias beat out an infield single to score Cespedes.

Anthony Gose hit a comebacker to Rzepczynski, who threw it into right field for a two-base error, scoring Iglesias. It was the last throw of the day for Rzepczynski, who was relieved by Bryan Shaw. Ian Kinsler promptly tripled to right to score Kinsler, and the Tigers had recovered the three runs they gave to the Indians in the previous inning. Shaw struck out Cabrera to end the inning, but whatever glimmer of hope the Tribe had was gone.

Player of the Game: Michael Bourn showed some of the leadoff prowess that inspired the Indians to sign him, going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, including the first and last runs of the game for the Indians.

Standings: The Tigers remain undefeated, moving to 4-0 with the win. The Royals are in second place in the American League Central, 3-0 with a game against the Angels late tonight. The Indians are back to .500 at 2-2, putting them squarely in the middle of the Central.

Etc.:  The Indians used more pitchers than any other team in baseball last year, and if Friday was any indication, that won’t change this year. Six hurlers took the hill for the Tribe. Francona’s probably the smartest manager the Indians have had since Al Lopez, but when the league is concerned about game times, this type of thing doesn’t help.

The game was called a sellout, with a crowd of 35,789. The Indians took out around 8,000 seats with the renovations and reconstruction to Progressive Field, but it’s still a far cry from the days when 45,000 fans would pack Jacobs Field. At least the weather was cooperative for the home opener.

Analysis: The offense was virtually non-existent aside from one decent inning, the starter didn’t give the bullpen anything to work with, and the defense – which was a sore point in 2014 – left a lot to be desired. This is the Indians team fans, deep down, are afraid would show up this year. And for as much as people want to coronate the Indians, the Tigers are still playing like the best team in the division (although it’s a small sample size).

The Indians and Tigers play at 4:05 p.m. Saturday. Corey Kluber (0-1, 2.45 ERA) – who looked good for the Indians in an offensively-challenged game – will take the hill against David Price (1-0, 0.00), who nearly pitched a complete game shutout in the opener for the Tigers.

Photo: AP Photo/Mark Duncan

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