Indians face old friend Scott Kazmir in Oakland
The Cleveland Indians took part in a bit of history and helped the Oakland Athletics create some of their own in the season opener.
The Indians will now try to beat an old friend Tuesday night, while the A’s attempt to avoid another 0-2 start when they send Scott Kazmir to the mound.
Cleveland handed Oakland a major league-record 10th straight opening-day loss Monday, scoring twice in the ninth inning for a 2-0 victory in the first of this three-game set at O.co Coliseum.
The Indians also found themselves in a historical moment in the sixth. Manager Terry Francona asked crew chief Mike Winters to review a collision at the plate and Winters obliged, becoming the first umpire to use MLB’s expanded replay system.
Winters wanted to see if A’s catcher John Jaso had illegally blocked the plate under baseball’s new rule regarding home plate collisions. In 59 seconds, Winters declared that Jaso had legally tagged out a sliding Michael Brantley, upholding his original call.
"I just wanted to check and see if Jaso had blocked the plate. We’ve all discussed the new rulings and what you’re allowed to do and what you aren’t," Francona said. "I just asked him if he’d look because I thought maybe he had gotten there a little too early.
"I appreciated him checking."
Francona now turns his attention to Kazmir, who revived a flagging career by going 10-9 in 29 starts with a 4.04 ERA and 162 strikeouts over 158 innings with Cleveland in 2013.
It was his first season in the majors since appearing in one game for the Los Angeles Angels in 2011. The left-hander spent 2012 toiling in the minors in an effort to come back from a series of injuries and ineffective seasons.
He signed a two-year, $22 million deal with Oakland over the winter.
"They know me. I know them," Kazmir told the team’s official website. "It’s more of a cat-and-mouse game now. They know my tendencies, and for the most part, I know their tendencies.
"It’s going to be a game of adjustments, I think. It’s going to be fun out there, for sure."
Kazmir was impressive in spring training, going 1-0 with a 1.62 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in four starts.
"I went into my last spring start throwing all of my pitches and having success with them," Kazmir said. "I’m more confident knowing I have a lot more pitches that I now feel comfortable with."
Oakland could also use some production from the lineup, which was held to five hits – four singles – in the opener.
Corey Kluber is slated to get the call for Cleveland, and he’s become the team’s second starter mostly due to the departures of Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez via free agency.
Kluber, though, proved to be effective in the rotation after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus last April, going 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA in 26 games, including 24 starts. The right-hander went 5-0 with a 3.30 ERA over his last 10 starts.
He’s facing the A’s for the first time since 2012, and he owns a 2.19 ERA in three meetings – two starts – but has an 0-2 record since he’s been backed by two total runs.
Brantley had two doubles Monday, but Nyjer Morgan’s go-ahead sacrifice fly and Nick Swisher’s RBI single provided the difference for the Indians.