OAKLAND, Calif.: The crowd started chanting during Nyjer Morgan’s first Indians’ post-game television interview Monday, and he couldn’t resist a brief appearance by alter ego Tony Plush.
“Just showing the fun,” Morgan said Tuesday before the Indians’ game against the Oakland A’s at O.co Coliseum was postponed by rain. “I try not to bring him out too much. He’s still on the island on vacation.”
Morgan made the kind of contribution he wanted when he signed a minor-league free-agent contract with the Indians in January. His ninth-inning sacrifice fly brought home the game-winning run in the Tribe’s 2-0 Opening Day victory. Batting in the leadoff spot, he drew a walk as the Indians forced right-hander Sonny Gray to throw 29 pitches in the first inning. He sacrificed a runner to second in the fifth.
And he did his part defensively, getting the ball in quickly on Josh Donaldson’s long single off the top of the center field wall in the eighth, when Daric Barton’s base-running blunder cost the A’s a run.
“That’s what we got him for,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Morgan.
“That was just a little bit of what I do,” Morgan said. “It was a whole team display, it wasn’t just me by myself.”
After playing in Japan last year, Morgan said he expected to be “a little jittery or nervous,” but he wasn’t. Nor did he feel pressure when he came to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out against A’s closer Jim Johnson in the ninth. He lofted a fly ball to center to score Asdrubal Cabrera.
“The pressure’s on him, there’s no pressure on me,” he said of Johnson. “I just had to put the ball in play.”
Morgan, 33, said he used his experience on Donaldson’s hit.
“I was kind of caught in between, ‘Do I try to make a web gem and be on ESPN or just do the smart thing and play it off the wall?’” Morgan said. “I played it off the wall and [there were] base-running blunders out there, but it all worked out in our favor.”
The Indians’ game against the A’s scheduled for 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday was postponed at 8:36 p.m. The two teams will play a day-night doubleheader today at 3:35 and 9:05 p.m. EDT.
It marked the first rainout at O.co Coliseum since May 5, 1998, vs. Detroit.
Scheduled Indians starter Corey Kluber seemed unfazed by the delay, although he cited the presence of former Indian Scott Kazmir, who was scheduled to go for the A’s.
“I think Kaz got all the rainouts last year, you can blame it on him,” Kluber said.
Right-hander Kluber will pitch the first game, and right-hander Zach McAllister the second for the Indians. The A’s will counter with left-hander Kazmir and a pitcher to be announced, with manager Bob Melvin scratching right-hander Jesse Chavez.
Francona studied the play at the plate in the sixth inning that home plate umpire/crew chief Mike Winters used the new instant replay system to review an example of the new rules on home plate collisions. Although replay upheld the out call as Michael Brantley tried to score from third, Francona still doesn’t believe A’s catcher John Jaso gave Brantley enough of a lane.
“They’re trying to institute a rule to protect the catchers. I think we all understand that. Getting there is not always [the] easiest,” Francona said. “I’m sure you’re going to see some squabbling back and forth until it’s completely figured out.”
Francona said because Jaso moved up the line “that takes away any angle Brantley had. I don’t agree with that at all.”
Francona said he told the Indians to slide in every instance.
“We were told that you’re never in peril of being called out, thrown out or suspended if you slide,” Francona said. “We were also told if they blocked the plate before they have the ball, they are going to overturn calls.”
Given the chance to see the replay, Brantley didn’t change what he said Monday night.
“I did not have clear vision of the plate,” Brantley said. “It’s a gray area and I think it’s going to come up more often.”
Asked if there was another way he could have slid, Brantley said, “The only other way was to slide way out to the right and I wouldn’t be able to touch the plate.”
Catcher Yan Gomes needed stitches in his elbow after being hit by a Johnson pitch in the ninth.
“Luckily it left a mark, but it didn’t break. That’s always your worst fear,” Francona said. “I think that happens more than people realize.”
Center-fielder Michael Bourn (strained left hamstring) will work out with Triple-A Columbus Wednesday and is scheduled to play rehab games there on Thursday and Friday.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.