Blue Jays pound Indians' bullpen in win

BY foxsports • April 11, 2009

The Cleveland Indians waited through nearly four hours of rain to resume their soggy home opener.

Their first win is still being delayed.

After rallying for three runs in the seventh inning to tie Toronto, the Indians' bullpen gave up six runs in the eighth and lost 13-7 Friday night to the Blue Jays, who overcame their own relief problems and dropped Cleveland to 0-4 for the first time since 1985.

Marco Scutaro homered in the fifth and singled home the go-ahead run during Toronto's outburst in the eighth as the Blue Jays improved to 4-1 - their best start since 2001.

The Indians have given up 42 runs in four games and gotten nothing from their pitching staff.

"I don't think anybody could expect coming out of the gates that we would see what we've seen so far," manager Eric Wedge said. "We always talk about being tough on the tough days and this is where they've got to show that. Everybody needs to have thick skin, they need to be tough and have broad shoulders and fight through this.

"It's a long season. As bad as these four games have been, and they've been bad, we've got to separate from it."

With his bullpen taxed already, Wedge said it's possible the club will make a roster move on Saturday.

Alex Rios and Adam Lind had four RBIs apiece for the Blue Jays. Brandon League (1-0) got the win despite walking a batter to load the bases in the seventh, hitting Ben Francisco with a pitch to force in the tying run and getting his only out on a scorching line drive.

League's shaky outing was quickly forgotten when Lind and Rios drove in two runs each in Toronto's eighth-inning outburst, which began with Scott Rolen hitting a single off Rafael Perez (0-1).

"I wouldn't describe it as ugly. I wouldn't describe it as sloppy. I'll describe it as a win," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "I'm glad we got it in."

Travis Hafner hit his second homer in two days and drove in three runs, and Victor Martinez and Shin-Soo Choo also homered for Cleveland, the AL's only winless team.

A sellout crowd of 42,473, which enjoyed the usual pomp and festivities of opening day under a gray sky, was reduced to about 500 for the final out, recorded 7 hours, 12 minutes after Indians rookie starter Scott Lewis threw his first pitch.

The Blue Jays, who trailed 3-0 after three innings, led 7-4 in the seventh before the Indians tied it thanks to Toronto's bullpen self-destructing with four walks and a hit batter.

The teams waited out a wet-weather delay that bordered on ridiculous. The dedicated fans who chose to ride it out were forced to endure plunging temperatures and a steady drizzle that never stopped. At one point, the grounds crew removed the tarp and made some minor repairs to the infield before covering it again, drawing moans and boos from the freezing fans.

About the only bonus was that the Cleveland Cavaliers' game at Philadelphia, which began at 7 p.m., was put on the giant scoreboard in left field. By the time the game resumed at 9:27 p.m., the Cavs were in the final minute of a 102-92 win over the 76ers.

"I thought I was going to be in bed sleeping by now," Lind said. "We battled through a lot of things and got a nice win."

Rafael Betancourt, who was warming up when the game was halted at 5:40 p.m, finally took the mound in the fifth with the Indians trailing by one. He got through it, but gave up a run in the sixth as Toronto went up 5-3.

Choo's 438-foot homer to right-center made it 5-4, but the Blue Jays tacked on two more in the seventh on Rios' two-run single.

The Indians have been worried about their starting pitching for months, and none of those concerns were diminished when the Rangers held extended batting practice for three days. Cleveland's top three starters - Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona and Carl Pavano - staggered home with a collective 18.00 ERA and 0-3 record.

For three innings, Lewis handled the Blue Jays, holding them to one hit. But in the fourth, Toronto tied it with three runs and four hits, including Lind's two-run homer.

Scutaro, a one-time Indians farmhand, gave the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead with his one-out homer in the fifth. Aaron Hill followed with a single and the second baseman had barely touched the bag at first when Wedge bolted from the dugout to rescue Lewis.

As Betancourt was making his warmup tosses, the umpires called for the delay not knowing it would last longer than most games.

With the Indians already up 2-0 in the third, Hafner, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, hit a towering homer into the Blue Jays' bullpen in right. It was a promising sign for Cleveland fans worried that "Pronk" had lost his pop.

"Travis is coming around," Wedge said. "You see him driving the ball and you see him being aggressive. Those are all good things."


Wedge wishes baseball would consider putting nets along the baselines in all ballparks for safety. "Someone is going to get killed with the broken bats and foul balls," he said. "It's an accident waiting to happen." ... The Indians will skip No. 5 starter Anthony Reyes on Saturday so Lee can face Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay in a matchup of Cy Young Award winners. "Too bad it didn't happen for opening day," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. ... As a kid, Wedge had posters of catching greats Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson on his bedroom wall. "My brother had the one of Farrah Fawcett," he said. ... The delay was the longest in Toronto history.

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