August 1, 2014

Medina
Sunny
77°F

Late Monday Tribe: Francona wins the one that counts

OAKLAND, Calif. — Terry Francona asked crew chief Mike Winters to review a collision at the plate, and the umpire obliged.

The call was confirmed, denying Cleveland the go-ahead run, but the Indians manager appreciated how smoothly the new replay process went.

The Indians later delivered on their chances in the ninth, with Nyjer Morgan hitting a go-ahead sacrifice fly against new Athletics closer Jim Johnson as Cleveland sent Oakland to its major league-record 10th straight opening loss with a 2-0 victory Monday night.

Nick Swisher added an RBI single against Johnson (0-1), who was then pulled from his A’s debut to boos from the sellout crowd.

“I would have booed me, too. I (stunk) today, I’ll admit it,” Johnson said. “That’s fine. I deserved it. I expect that. The next time they’re probably going to be cheering.”

In the sixth, Winters became the first umpire to initiate a review under the expanded replay system, making the call after a collision at home plate.

Winters wanted to see if A’s catcher John Jaso had illegally blocked the plate under baseball’s new rule regarding home plate collisions. With Michael Brantley on third and one out, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a comebacker that ricocheted off pitcher Sonny Gray’s foot.

Gray quickly retrieved the ball and fired home to Jaso, who tagged a sliding Brantley. Francona came out to discuss the play.

“Basically with the new rule I just wanted to confirm what I saw: That the catcher did not block the plate unnecessarily,” Winters said. “He was in fair territory, he gave the runner plenty of plate to go to. I just wanted to be sure.”

The call was confirmed in 59 seconds and the game remained scoreless.

Oakland’s Josh Donaldson hit a single off the top of the wall near the 400-foot sign in center in the eighth, but Daric Barton held up at second waiting to tag in case the ball was caught, and the A’s failed to score the go-ahead run.

“That was interesting,” Francona said.

Cody Allen (1-0) then struck out Jed Lowrie and retired Brandon Moss on a grounder to first.

Justin Masterson, in his third straight opening-day outing, and Gray dueled before the bullpens took over to decide it. Masterson allowed three hits, struck out four and walked one in seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA on opening day to 0.86.

Gray walked the first two batters of the game but quickly settled to throw six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and three walks in a 105-pitch opener.

The right-hander, who dueled with Detroit ace Justin Verlander in Game 2 of last fall’s division series, earned the start after Jarrod Parker was lost to season-ending Tommy John surgery.

A couple dozen grounds crew workers carried large brooms to sweep water off the tarp all afternoon. The Indians briefly came out to right field to go through some warmups during a break in the rain some three hours before first pitch.

Rained out

Scott Kazmir will have to wait at least one more day to make his debut for the Oakland Athletics and pitch against his former team. It’s not exactly the kind of doubleheader he had planned. The game between the A’s and Indians was postponed because of rain Tuesday night. It was the first rainout in Oakland since May 5, 1998.

“I think Kaz brought all the rain with him. You can blame it on him,” said right-hander Corey Kluber, the Indians’ scheduled starter.

The game will be made up in a day-night doubleheader today. The first game is scheduled to start at 3:35 p.m. and the second game at 9. Kazmir and Kluber will start the opener. Zach McAllister will take the mound for the Indians in the second game, while A’s manager Bob Melvin said his starter is “to be announced.”

Jesse Chavez had been scheduled to start for the A’s today, but Melvin said he will likely push him back until Thursday. Teams are allowed to add a 26th man to the 25-man roster for day-night doubleheaders, so Oakland could call up a pitcher from Triple-A Sacramento to make the start.

The forecast for today was for a high of 61 degrees and a 10 percent chance of rain.