A beautiful day in Cleveland for the home opener (for a change) ended with a Tribe W. One down, 161 to go. We are not going to break down the minutia of every single game, but since this was the opener, it deserves the attention. Again, it's only one game and there is no reason for concern on anything...except for Victor's hamstring.
They are telling us that it's "day to day," but the Tribe brass is very quiet. One of my Tribe insiders told me yesterday that the night before the season, Mark Shapiro said only two things keep him up at night, one of them is Victor Martinez getting hurt. Luckily for the Indians, Backup Catcher Kelly Shoppach is the best in the business. Seriously, you find us a better backup catcher in baseball. Shop has a cannon for an arm and has pop at the plate. He was stuck in the cleanup spot after Martinez left with the injury. He started the three run rally with a single off of Octavio Dotel in the 8th, which ended with Casey Blake's bases loaded, two out double that won the game for the Tribe 10-8.
Back to Victor. If he is out for a long period of time, it could be big trouble. He is the most indispensible player on the team, regardless of Shoppach's value. He is the best hitting catcher in the league and the Tribe's most clutch hitter. With the shaky head of Travis Hafner, it's of the utmost importance that Victor is not seriously injured.
How about Franky G! Seriously, we said it yesterday and Terry Pluto agreed in today's PD, this kid is going to have a breakout year. He was 3-3 yesterday with a walk and a three run Pizza. You knew Dotel wasn't going to give him anything to hit with Blake on deck in the 8th and the lead run at second. Who knew Casey would make the Sox pay? Certainly not this guy. I yelled "come on Casey, get lucky" as he stepped to the plate. He got down 1-2 in the count and laced a BB off the left field wall clearing the bases. I'm off his case for this week at least.
No Need to Worry, but the bullpen was very shaky yesterday. Jenson Lewis did a great job striking out two to bail out C.C. Sabathia (and Blake for booting a DP grounder) in the sixth, but got into trouble in the seventh, giving up two hits. Rafael Perez was brought in to face Jim Thome and he ripped one to the wall, where Jason Michaels saved Raffy Left with a great running catch against the wall. Perez wasn't so lucky with Paul Konerko who doubled home two to tie the game. Rafael Betancourt didn't look himself yesterday either, but somehow managed to get out of a bases loaded, nobody out jam unscathed. JoBo did his usual in the ninth. He gave up a HR to Jermaine Dye and walked Joe Crede to bring the tying run to the plate. Luckily, he got the final out for the 10-8 win. Again, nothing to worry about, it was only one game.
C.C. looked like the C.C. of the playoffs. He had some control issues, and couldn't spot his breaking pitches. Jim Thome, who cam in 0-11 with seven K's against Sabathia, homered in his first two at bats. He looked gassed in the sixth and probably shouldn't have started the inning. When you walk Alexi Ramirez, its not a good sign.
We finally saw the replays of the controversial plays, well, two of them at least. The play at the plate with Crede in the 8th looked like a phantom tag to us, but we will take it. Thome's double play ball was definitely interefernce by Orlando Cabrera, who reached out and grabbed Jhonny Peralta in attempts to break up the DP. Even Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen agreed: "I went down in the clubhouse tunnel and watched the replay, he grabbed Peralta."
One last thing about Jim Thome, anyone who booes him, yes - I am talking to the majority of the crowd yesterday - is an idiot. The guy gave this city everything he had. He has so much love for the city and the fans and continues to take the high road in the press. Like you wouldn't take a guaranteed extra $16 million dollars and play for a winner, rather than sit here through a rebuilding phase? Not to mention, had the Indians signed him to that big contract, it would have only been a matter of time before that contract would have hamstrung the organization and he would have been dealt. He is a great player, a great guy, and booing him is just plain dumb. Good for him for going deep twice yesterday.