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Finally - a game with a happy ending


Finally - a game with a happy ending
TRIBE OPENING WEEKEND 2009

Indians 8

Blue Jays 4

Pop the corks and break out the kazoos: The Indians are on the board.

The Tribe waved goodbye to the Washington Nationals and avoided a further link to the 1914 Naps by defeating the Blue Jays, 8-4, Sunday afternoon in Progressive Field.

Neither sun nor birds could prevent the home team from finally enjoying the postgame spread.

"It's always different, obviously, when you get that first win," said Indians manager Eric Wedge, who did not get carried away and fire up a stogie.

After their respective fifth straight losses Saturday, the Indians and Nationals were the only major-league teams without a victory. Washington failed to meet Cleveland's challenge when it fell at Atlanta, 8-5, Sunday.

The Tribe avoided joining the 1914 Naps as the most recent clubs in franchise history to start 0-6. The Naps stumbled to 0-8 and finished 51-102. Among their players: Nap Lajoie, Ray Chapman and Joe Jackson.

"Nobody in this clubhouse panicked," reliever Jensen Lewis said. "We knew we weren't going to go 0-162."

Mark DeRosa and Travis Hafner hit two-run homers in support of Anthony Reyes, who performed considerably better than his line in giving Wedge a much-needed effective start.

Trevor Crowe's first major-league hit was a two-run double. And Kerry Wood brought high-octane nastiness in the ninth inning.

Each deserves props, but Lewis gets the game ball. If he had not bowed his neck in the seventh inning, the Indians might have headed to Kansas City, Mo., with their heads spinning.

With one out and runners on second and third, Lewis replaced Rafael Perez. The Indians led, 5-4.

Lewis struck out former Indians farmhand Marco Scutaro and got Aaron Hill to fly out to right.

"Jensen Lewis was outstanding," Wedge said. "He picked us up in the seventh."

Scutaro, a pest throughout the three-game series, fanned on a fastball above the belt.

"I told myself, 'If he's going to beat me, he's going to beat me the other way,' " Lewis said. "I went after him up and away. It felt good to get him, because I knew we needed it."

Lewis kept the blinders on amid gulls and worked a scoreless eighth before giving way to Wood. By then, the Indians led, 8-4, making it a nonsave situation. No matter. Wood needed the work and the Indians (desperately) needed a victory.

To describe Wood's first Tribe appearance in Cleveland as electrifying might not be doing it justice.

Wood opened by striking out Scott Rolen on a 98-mph pitch that Rolen probably did not see. Lyle Overbay was caught looking and Michael Barrett swung through filth.

It amounted to 13 pitches of, "Here it is, good luck trying to hit it."

"I don't think there's much I need to say about what Kerry did in the ninth," Wedge said. "It doesn't get much better than that."

Those of the 14,216 who remained would have given Wood a standing ovation even if it had not been the end of a game the Tribe won.

"Wow," Lewis said. "That was impressive. That's how you draw it up."

Perez, Lewis and Wood enabled Reyes to earn a well-deserved victory. Reyes allowed one hit and one run through five. He gave up three runs in the sixth. The inning turned when Shin-Soo Choo lost an Alex Rios fly in the sun.

Reyes finished with three hits and four runs allowed in six innings.

When Reyes took the mound in the sixth, it qualified as news. He was the first Tribe starter to pitch in that inning this season.

Before Reyes, Tribe starters were 0-4 with a 13.28 ERA. They had given up 30 earned runs on 37 hits in 20 1/3 innings.

The Indians took a 3-1 lead on DeRosa's homer in the third. They made it 5-1 on Crowe's double in the fifth.

Hafner's 412-footer to right-center in the eighth gave the Indians breathing room at 7-4.

"If he's hit one harder than the one he hit [Sunday], I don't remember when," Wedge said.

Hafner has homered in three straight for the first time since Aug. 18-20, 2006.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: dmanoloff@plaind.com, 216-999-4664


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 15, 2009

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