If you are a Cleveland Indians fan it had all the makings of another 1-0 loss starting you right in the face. The Blue Jays had managed to push a run across the plate in the top of the 5th against C. C. Sabathia and Toronto ace Roy Halladay was equally, if not more, dominant. But as Sabathia was able to work out of trouble in the 7th, Halladay was not, and the Tribe took advantage for a 6-1 victory in the series opener at Progressive Field.
Scuffling Travis Hafner and Ryan Garko started the Indians' 7th with back to back singles. Eric Wedge called for Asdrubal Cabrera to bunt, but Halladay was unable to find the strike zone and walked Cabrera on four straight pitches. Casey Blake continued his reversal of fortune from 2007 as he delivered a 2-run double off the wall in left for a 2-1 Tribe lead.
Grady Sizemore weakly popped out to shortstop and it looked as if the Indians were poised to squander another opportunity. But Toronto walked Franklin Gutierrez to load the bases with one out and set up a lefty on lefty match-up of Jesse Carlson versus David Dellucci.
But Eric Wedge played the odds to perfection as he sent up Ben Francisco up to pinch hit and Toronto counter with Jeremy Accardo. Francisco hammered a 2-run double of his own for a 4-1 lead. A wild pitch and sacrifice fly made it game, set, match Cleveland as Jensen Lewis and Masa Kobayashi each pitched a scoreless inning of relief to close to door on the Blue Jays.
Despite the offensive struggles lately, the Indians have a few good trends they are starting to repeat. They won the first game of the series, as they did consistently in 2007, for the second series in a row. Sabathia seems to be back to form after his "Half an April from Hell". Lewis and Kobayshi look to have become alternative options for Uncle Eric out of the pen so he won't have to pitch the Fightin' Raffy Brothers to death.
Travis Hafner did go 2-3 with a double and a walk and looked more composed at the plate for the first time in a while, but gosh did he look awful of that strikeout in the 9th. Regardless, the Indians remain a game and a half out of first in the underachieving AL Central as they approach the quarter-pole of the season.
It's Tribe Time Now. Believeland.