Twenty final thoughts for the 20 runners both teams left on base.
& It was ironic that the new replay system and the new rules regarding home plate collisions were tested on the same play in the sixth inning.
2. In a scoreless game, home plate umpire/crew chief Mike Winters essentially challenged his own call. Winters used the new instant replay system to decide whether A’s catcher John Jaso blocked too much of the plate and failed to give Brantley a lane to score.
3. With Brantley on third base, Asdrubal Cabrera sent a grounder that hit off pitcher Sonny Gray’s leg. But Gray’s throw to Jaso was in time for Jaso to tag Brantley. But after Winters called Brantley out, Indians manager Terry Francona came out to talk to Winters and asked Winters to take a look at the play again. Francona said he wasn’t allowed to challenge the catcher’s defensive position, only the safe or out call.
4. “I wanted to check and see if Jaso had blocked the plate. We’ve all discussed the new rules and what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not,” Francona said. “I just asked him if he’d look because I thought maybe he’d gotten there a little too early. Once they check, I have no idea what they’re saying. I appreciated him checking. You can challenge the safe or out, but you have to ask them to look and he did.”
5. Winters contacted the MLB replay headquarters and it took only 59 seconds for the call to be upheld. Replay determined Jaso was allowed not to give Brantley little ground because he had the ball before the runner arrived.
6..“Basically with the new rule, I just wanted to confirm what I saw on the field that the catcher did not block the plate unnecessarily,” Winters told a pool reporter. “As a matter of fact, we (he and first base umpire Mark Wegner) have looked at it, too. He was in fair territory, he gave the runner plenty of plate to go to and so I just wanted to be sure. He's totally in fair territory before the ball is thrown to him as the ball is thrown to him he catches and then steps in front of the runner and that's all he can do.”
7. Although he had not seen the replay, Brantley did not agree. “I did not have a lane,” Brantley said. “As you can see, I slid into both of his legs with my shin. It’s a tough call, it’s a gray area. Hopefully next time we’ll get that call.”
8. Brantley said he can’t change the way he slides into home plate.
9. “I feel like if you change the way you come into the plate you’re going to get hurt,” Brantley said. “He has gear on. You have to try to slide though him and do the best you can, kind of protecting yourself and at the same time making sure you get to the plate. I just wanted to get to the plate. I don’t know if I made it or not.”
10. Asked if it was a bad call, Brantley said, “I don’t know about that. We talked about this in spring training. We were talking about making sure we slide and let Tito handle the rest. This is something new. There’s going to be some interesting calls and some stuff that’s going to happen. I look forward to hopefully being on the other side and getting the right call. I don’t know.”
11. Winters did not sound upset to be questioned by the pool reporter after the game. “I want you guys (writers) to involved as much as we are because you know what we are just trying to get it right. I look at this as just another tool to help us get even more plays right,” Winters said.
12. Indians starter Justin Masterson had struggled in his career against the A’s, making his seven scoreless innings all the more impressive. Masterson gave up only three hits and struck out four while walking one.
13. Masterson entered 2-6 with an 8.10 ERA in eight career starts against the A’s, although he did record eight scoreless relief innings with the Boston Red Sox. As a starter, Masterson was 0-5 at the O.co Coliseum. Now his list of American League Stadiums where he’s never won is down to two – Rangers Ballpark (0-2) and Yankee Stadium (0-2).
14. Asked about those previous problems against the A’s, Masterson said, “In general, it’s mixing and matching, trying to figure out. These guys are very patient. So I usually get behind in the count. Last year I got ahead in the count, today I got ahead in the count, it allows them to swing early. That works in my favor when I’m able to throw strikes.”
15. Masterson became the first Indian to start three consecutive Opening Days since CC Sabathia in 2006-08 and the first right-hander since Bartolo Colon (2000-02).
16. Nick Swisher, who drove in one of the Indians’ two runs, praised Masterson. “To have a guy like that, no jitters, no nervousness, pound the strike zone, do what he does best, that’s getting guys out,” Swisher said. “That definitely took a lot of pressure off us as hitters. There were times early in the game when we had guys on third with less than two out and we weren’t able to get it done.”
17. The Indians left 11 men on base and batted 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
18. Right-hander Gray, 24, became only the second A’s starting pitcher not to give up a run in his Opening Day start, joining Tim Hudson in 2003.
19. “Sonny Gray did a great job of getting them out of some jams,” Swisher said. “We had guys in scoring position a lot tonight, just didn’t do a good job getting runs in. But, hey, better late than never.”
20. The Indians won their second consecutive Opening Day, but have still lost 4 of the last 6, 8 of 12 and 10 of the last 16. It may be no coincidence the streak seems to be turning with the arrival of Francona.