Opening Day Brings Indians Offense to Life
Through the first five innings on Friday, the Indians offense was a no show. Try as they might, they just couldn’t get anything going. To this point, this should not come as a surprise. For all of the tinkering and shifting of the lineup Terry Francona has done over the course of 2013 and so far in 2014, the offense has been capable of these super long dry spells.
That all changed in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to Yan Gomes.
Prior to Gomes stepping to the plate, Twins starter Mike Pelfrey had been lights out. In his first five innings of work, Pelfrey had only allowed one hit, a leadoff double to Carlos Santana in the fifth that the Indians were unable to do anything with. It was a shame too. The fans had already endured the buzz kill of a two-hour rain delay. Now their team could do next to nothing offensively.
On a 3-2 pitch from Pelfrey, Gomes changed all of that and with it, the entire atmosphere within Progressive Field. His solo home that sliced through the cutting wind put the Indians on the board and knocked Pelfrey off his equilibrium. It was only the beginning.
After a walk to Lonnie Chisenhall and sacrifice bunt by Nyjer Morgan, Nick Swisher gave the fans who had stuck around something to really cheer about. On an 0-1 pitch, Pelfrey grooved a fastball right down the heart of the plate. Swisher made contact, good contact. So good, in fact, that it was a no doubt about it home run into the stands in right. It was the perfect home run, from the crack of the bat, you just knew it was gone. The Indians went up 3-2 and from that point forward, the route was on.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Indians abused the Twins bullpen and built up a lead that even Jim Johnson wouldn’t have been able to give away.
With one out, Yan Gomes struck again, this time with a single. Lonnie Chisenhall, who impressed by going 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored, followed with a double. Nyjer Morgan then recorded his first hit as an Indian, an RBI single to right, and Nick Swisher doubled off the wall in right, plating yet another run to make it a 5-3 game. Not satisfied, Michael Brantley singled back up the middle to drive in Morgan and Swisher. That pushed the lead to 7-2 in favor of the Indians, a lead they would not relinquish.
Meanwhile, the Indians pitching staff was equally as impressive on Friday afternoon. They limited the Twin to only two runs, both of which came in the bottom of the first off of Danny Salazar. And while the Twins were able to get several runners on base throughout the course of the game, they exhibited a bend but don’t break mentality that can help separate the best teams from the worst.
With the victory, the Indians pushed their record to 3-1 on the young season. The victory on Opening Day was also their first Opening Day victory in Cleveland since the 2008 season. Fitting that the Indians ended that streak and put together a memorable Opening Day performance 20 years to the day after the very first Indians home opener.