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News » Indians survive near four-hour rain delay, but can't survive Blue Jays' onslaught

Indians survive near four-hour rain delay, but can't survive Blue Jays' onslaught

Indians survive near four-hour rain delay, but can't survive Blue Jays' onslaught
CLEVELAND _ It would be hard to find seven hours, five minutes of electrifying entertainment to match the Indians' home opener Friday afternoon and night at Progressive Field.

First came 4 innings of Baseball that ended with the Indians trailing by one run. That was followed by a three-hour, 47-minute rain delay, allowing all but about 1,500 fans who did not wish to catch double pneumonia to flee.

The crescendo finish, which should have been accompanied by the crashing of cymbals, occurred in the eighth inning, when the Toronto Blue Jays scored six runs to break a 7-7 tie and take an insurmountable lead.

And so the Indians lost their fourth game _ that is, the entire season's worth to date _ by a 13-7 score that did nothing to engender amusement from manager Eric Wedge.

"We were in a position to get back in the game multiple times and in a position to win it multiple times," he said. "But we weren't able to make pitches when we needed to or make plays when we needed to. And at the end, it got out of hand."

Then again, Rafael Perez, who started the eighth inning, was partly victimized by bad luck. The winning rally began with Scott Rolen's bloop single and Kevin Millar's hard ground ball to shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who made a diving stop.

Peralta really had no play, but he tired going to second and was too late. Asdrubal Cabrera's relay to first was in the dirt, allowing Millar, who fell getting out of the box, to beat the throw.

With the runners on second and third after a sacrifice bunt, Perez walked Michael Barrett intentionally to load the bases only to have Marco Scutaro aim another bloop hit to right to launch a parade of runners that reached the plate.

At this point, an objective observer might make the case that a black cloud was hovering over the heads of Tribe players. But it would be a mistake to push the hypothesis that the loss was a consequence of the Indians not getting the breaks.

Eleven Jays batted in the eighth inning, so there was plenty of time to hoist an umbrella. Instead, Perez and Masa Kobayashi kept the rally going until the Indians became hopelessly behind.

"I don't think anyone could expect coming out of the gate that we'd see what we've seen so far," Wedge said. "I've always talked about being tough on the tough days, and this is what I'm talking about."

As in its 12-8 loss to the Texas Rangers on Thursday afternoon, the Tribe unleashed a home run barrage. After hitting a two-run double in the first inning, Travis Hafner homered with nobody on in the third.

Shin-Soo Choo went deep in the sixth for the Indians' fourth run, and Victor Martinez bashed a two-run blast in the seventh, when the Tribe scored three times to deadlock the score.

But if they hadn't learned the lesson already, the Indians discovered to their horror that a team does not win by the home run ball alone. In Thursday's defeat in Texas, Cleveland hitters launched five balls over the fence and didn't come close to winning.

So what was missing? It's called effective pitching, and the lack of it has kept the Tribe winless for the year.

In contrast to the first three games, the seeds of defeat weren't sewn entirely by the starting pitcher, not that Scott Lewis was blameless. He gave up four runs in 4 innings, his downfall being a two-run homer by Adam Lind and a solo by Scutaro.

But there was a difference in Lewis' performance compared to those by Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona and Carl Pavano, who started the first three games. Lewis did not dig a hole so deep that his team had no chance to climb out. By the time Lee, Carmona and especially Pavano left the game, the Tribe had virtually no chance to recover.

"Lewis was spotting the ball early on really in command of the ballgame," Wedge said.

Then it looked like he started to leak out a little over the middle of the plate."

So the bullpen was at least as much to blame for Friday's defeat as Lewis. Rafael Betancourt, Joe Smith, Perez and Kobayashi combined to give up nine runs, including seven earned runs.

"I wouldn't say it's easy," Smith said about stopping the skid. "We're getting a little anxious now. You know when you're playing good Baseball, and the first three games, we didn't play good Baseball. Tonight we started off playing well and didn't end so hot."


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Added: April 11, 2009

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