OAKLAND — When Oakland’s Josh Donaldson hit a towering shot to center during the eighth inning of Monday’s game against the Indians. Everyone, including Nyjer Morgan, thought it was gone and the Athletics would have a 3-0 lead.
Instead, when the ball hit the wall, Morgan quickly got the carom and got it in to the infield quickly. Add in Donaldson admiring the ball plus everyone waiting too late to tag up and there wasn’t any damage.
"It kind of died down and I was caught in between. Do I try to make a web gem or do the smart thing and play it off the wall?" Morgan said. "A few years ago I probably would have made a web gem to be on ESPN but everything kind of slowed down in the process and I wanted to give us another chance. The meat of our order was coming up. All that came into play and playing it smart."
In the ninth inning with the bases loaded and none out, it ended up being Morgan that delivered the game-winning RBI on a fly ball to center that scored Asdrubal Cabrera. It is the fifth time since 1950 that someone has delivered the game-winning RBI on Opening Day in his Cleveland debut and the first since Travis Fryman did it in 1998.
Morgan was 0 for 2 in the Tribe’s 2-0 win, but he drew a walk in the first, had a sacrifice bunt in the fifth and then the sacrifice fly. No Cleveland player had done that in the same game since Lou Merloni on June 18, 2004, at Atlanta.
Said Morgan of the opener: "I thought I would have been a little jittery or nervous but it is still the same game. I just take each day as it comes and try to make sure I put on my best performance and the best game."
Cleveland also got its first appearance of Morgan’s alter ego, T-Plush, during a postgame interview on SportsTime Ohio, even if it was only for a couple seconds. As Morgan said on Tuesday, it was all in good fun.
"I tried not to bring him out too much. He’s still on the island on vacation. He came in just a little bit," Morgan added.
Morgan was not in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game against Oakland, which ended up being postponed due to rain. That game will be made up with a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday.
GOMES UPDATE: Yan Gomes had his elbow taped up and was still feeling the effects of being hit by a pitch during the ninth inning. He was in the starting lineup though for the game.
REPLAY REVIEW: Terry Francona had a chance to view the replays of the play at the plate where Michael Brantley was called out and echoed the sentiments of his outfielder how there remains a lot of gray area in the new rule on preventing catcher collisions.
"The league is going to have to work through some of those things. I agree with that. They’re trying to institute a rule to protect the catchers," Francona said. "You’re going to see some squabbling back and forth until it is figured out.
"You’re never in peril if you slide. We were also told if they blocked the plate before they had the ball they were going to overturn some calls. It’s still a little gray."
GIAMBI REHAB STINT? Francona said he wants to sit down and discuss Jason Giambi’s return to the roster when the team gets back to Cleveland.
One possible option is for Giambi to go down to the minors for a short rehab stint but Francona also knows that Giambi might not be a big proponent of that. Giambi has been out with a rib injury since getting hit by an Edwin Jackson pitch in a March 7 game against the Cubs.