We’ve been waiting more than a week for the Cleveland Indians to start scoring some runs. The offensive finally delivered Friday as the Indians (2-4) crashing the party at Kauffman Stadium’s Opening Day to beat the Kansas City Royals (3-4), 8-3.
The Indians started scoring in the top of the first and never looked back. Michael Brantley led off the game with a single and advanced to third on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s double. Both scored on Shin-Soo Choo‘s two-run single, giving the Tribe a 2-0 lead before Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar recorded a single out.
Choo stole second as Carlos Santana struck out and advanced to third on Travis Hafner‘s groundout, and with two outs the rally really got started. Shelley Duncan drove in Choo with a single, and Jason Kipnis plated both Duncan and Casey Kotchman with a two-run triple. Kipnis scored on Hannahan’s base hit, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and crossed the plate himself on Brantley’s double.
It took Hochevar 34 pitches and 11 batters to escape the first inning. By the time the Royals finally got to hit Cleveland had jumped out to a 7-0 lead and according to FanGraphs had 15 in 16 odds of winning the game.
Kansas City got off to a strong start offensively with three straight singles to start the bottom of the first, but managed only one run when Jarrod Dyson scored on Eric Hosmer‘s RBI single. The Royals didn’t score again until the fourth, when Alex Gordon‘s RBI single and Mike Moustakas‘ RBI double made it 7-3 Cleveland. They threatened again in the bottom of the seventh, but with two outs and runners at the corners Hosmer grounded out to kill the rally.
The score remained unchanged until the top of the ninth, when Cabrera connected off Kelvin Herrera for a leadoff home run. Vinnie Pestano shut the Royals down in the bottom of the ninth and the Indians won, 8-3.
The Good: Other than the offensive explosion, the real highlight was Derek Lowe. His line Friday wasn’t as nice as it was in his debut—he allowed three runs (all earned) on 11 hits in 6.2 innings—but that’s a quality start, and while his lack of strikeouts is a real concern (he’s fanned just three batters in 13.2 innings this year—low even for Lowe), the Indians would be thrilled to get that 30 more times this year.
Kudos are also due to Vinnie Pestano. The ninth inning wasn’t exactly a high-leverage situation, but he struck out two Royals (the other grounded out) in his perfect inning. Amazingly, he did it while throwing only one non-fastball: Alcides Escobar‘s swinging strike three was on a slider. He is just all kinds of good.
The Bad: Luke Hochevar had to be helped off the mound after the fourth inning as Carlos Santana’s line drive struck him right in the ankle. Luckily it’s just a bad bruise, but it’s never fun to see a player in serious pain.
Not a whole lot more to complain about this game. Travis Hafner went 0-for-5, but that’s really just nitpicking—it’s not like he let the Indians down.
The “Huh”?: Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson is 27 years old and has played only 45 MLB games in his career. He’s fast, but he has no power to speak of and entering Friday he had a .296 career on-base percentage. So why in the world is he batting leadoff for Kansas City?
Interesting Tidbit: This year marks the first time this millennium that the Indians have used the same batting order in five of their first six games. The last time that happened was 2000, when the usual lineup looked like this: Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Richie Sexson, David Justice, Travis Fryman, Sandy Alomar.