Cleveland Indians' Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson works against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, March 31, 2014, in Oakland, Calif.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Nyjer Morgan hit a
go-ahead sacrifice fly in the ninth inning against new Athletics closer
Jim Johnson and the Cleveland Indians sent Oakland to its major
league-record 10th straight opening loss with a 2-0 victory Monday
Nick Swisher added an RBI single against Johnson (0-1), who was then pulled from his A’s debut.
In the sixth, crew chief Mike Winters
became the first umpire to initiate a review under the expanded replay
system, making the call after a collision at home plate.
Winters requested the review on a close
play that kept Cleveland from breaking a scoreless tie. The call was
confirmed in 59 seconds.
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 quickly retrieved the ball and
fired home to Jaso, who tagged a sliding Brantley. Cleveland manager
Terry Francona came out to discuss the play, then Winters went to replay
and the call was confirmed in 59 seconds.
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.
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 in a scoreless games before the
bullpens took over to decide it.
The game began just four minutes behind
schedule under blue skies, a best-case scenario considering the
downpour a couple of hours earlier.
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
Yan Gomes went 1 for 3 only hours after
finalizing a new $23 million, six-year contract with the Indians. He
was plunked in the left elbow in the ninth. John Axford finished for
Cleveland, striking out Nick Punto to end it with runners on first and
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.
The two-time reigning AL West champion
A’s took the field 90 minutes before first pitch under the lights when
the rain finally slowed — some even in short sleeves.
Cleveland CF Michael Bourn, on the DL to start the year with a left
hamstring strain, ran down a ball and hit a pair of doubles in a minor
league game. He was set to go to Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday, and
Francona expected a meeting when the team returns home to face Minnesota
on Thursday. "I just know when I look at the reports and I see him
doing well I feel good because that means he’ll be back," Francona said.
… The Indians signed C George Kottaras and RHP Mark Lowe to minor
league deals and sent them to Columbus. … Gray was Oakland’s ninth
different opening day starter in nine years. … Masterson was the first
Indians pitcher to start three straight openers since CC Sabathia from
2006-08. Ex-A’s RHP Bartolo Colon did it for Cleveland in 2000-02. …
Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson threw out the ceremonial first pitch.