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Cleveland Indians

Tribe ruins Mariners' home opener

By Sheldon Published: April 9, 2011

SEATTLE: The Mariners didn't sell out Safeco Field for Friday night's home opener until Friday morning.

They came into the game against the Tribe with a 2-4 record, and when it was over they were 2-5, as the Indians delivered an early barrage of runs then coasted to a 12-3 win, their fifth in a row.

Maybe all that is as it should be. Seattle lost 101 games in 2010 and has posted five losing seasons in the past seven years to go with five last place finishes. That scenario should have a familiar ring to Northeast Ohio fans.

For several seasons before that the Mariners, like the Tribe, were one of the powerhouse clubs in their division.

Over the winter, the Mariners hired former Cleveland skipper Eric Wedge to manage the team and three former Tribe coaches/scouts to be on his staff: Carl Willis, Jeff Datz and Robbie Thompson. On the roster are Milton Bradley, Aaron Laffey, Franklin Gutierrez, Chris Gimenez and Jamey Wright, all of whom made stops in Cleveland.

So does that make the Mariners the Indians of the West? The difference is that Seattle's ownership has money to spend. Still, it will take awhile to fix this. You could tell by Friday night's game.

For the first time since April 18, 2009, against the Yankees, the Tribe scored 10 runs in a single inning. That's what happens when 14 batters come to the plate and seven of the first eight reach base.

""Tonight we get 12 runs and I got to relax a little bit and try to do my best,'' said starter Carlos Carrasco. ""I was a little bit excited and threw too many pitches (99).''

Jason Vargas was the initial victim of the Indians' rally, giving up seven runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings (six in the fourth). But Tom Wilhelmsen kept the ball rolling.

It was against Wilhelmsen that Travis Hafner hit a drive that struck the front of a restaurant one level above the lower grandstand in right-field.

The three-run homer served as a dramatic climax to the inning that also included a two-run single by Carlos Santana. Hafner amassed four RBI during the inning, as he drove in the first run with a bloop single.

""That was the big dagger in the inning,'' manager Manny Acta said of Hafner's home run. ""He's stronger physically compared to last season, because he lifted more weights in the off season. His bat speed also is better.''

Almost lost in the chaotic 10-run inning was Asdrubal Cabrera's home run with one out and nobody on in the first that gave the Tribe its initial lead. He and Hafner are the only Indians with two home runs for the season.

Acta seemed most proud of his team's approach at the plate, especially during the long rally.

""We had very good at-bats,'' he said. ""We were taking what the pitcher gave us and were using the whole field. Not every ball went off the fence, but we had a lot of line drives. It was just a huge inning.''

Ironically, it was Laffey who finally refused to give up a Cleveland run. Laffey yielded only one infield hit and a walk in two innings, striking out two.

Carrasco was making his second start of the season and continued the run of excellence by the Tribe rotation, giving up one run and four hits in six innings. In the past five games, the starters have posted a 1.44 earned-run average.

Managers become concerned when their pitchers have to sit through a long rally, but as Acta said, ""That's always a worry for managers, but I'd rather go through that and get the runs.'' [ep
Carrasco spent the time staying loose.

""I did exercises,'' he said. ""When I went back out I felt a little cold, that's why I was kind of all over the place for awhile.''

Obviously, Carrasco was able to relax and pitch aggressively after the Indians' double-digit outburst in the foruth. But in the first three innings, he allowed only a first-inning leadoff single by Ichiro Suzuki and a walk. Carrasco struck out three over this span and six for his six-inning stint.

In his first start of the season, Carrasco was shelled for seven runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Justin Germano relieved Carrasco and delivered two scoreless innings. By then, most of the 45,727 fans had left and did not see Frank Herrmann give up two runs but finish the job in the ninth inning.

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