Indians celebrate makeup home opener, win again
Posted: Tuesday May 22, 2007 1:21AM; Updated: Tuesday May 22, 2007 1:21AM
CLEVELAND (AP) -- The snow was fake. There were no shovels, brooms or leaf blowers needed this time. The grounds crew could have taken the night off.
Forty-five days after they first tried to play their home opener, the Cleveland Indians finally finished it.
"Let's move on," manager Eric Wedge said. "Let it go."
Casey Blake homered and Josh Barfield had two RBIs as the Indians remained baseball's best home team with a 5-2 win Monday night over the Seattle Mariners, who are about to rack up some frequent flyer miles.
The game was a makeup of the April 6 home opener at Jacobs Field, which was called after the clubs played 4 2-3 innings in blizzard-like conditions and a snowstorm that dumped more than 2 feet on the ballpark and caused the entire four-game series to be postponed.
There was no hint of foul weather as the clubs made up the first of four rescheduled games, which were moved to common off days and created travel hardships for both the Indians and Mariners.
"The more games we knock out, the better we'll all feel," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "It's not any more pleasant for the Indians than it is for us. You just have to deal with it."
Blake's fourth homer, a two-out shot off Cha Seung Baek (1-2), snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth and Barfield's two-run double in the seventh gave the Indians a 4-1 lead. Grady Sizemore added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Cleveland improved to 17-4 at home, with two of those wins coming in Milwaukee when the club had to move a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels under Miller Park's retractable roof in April.
Tom Mastny (3-1) took over for starter C.C. Sabathia and got the win.
Sabathia allowed one run and eight hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out four, recording his 1,000th career strikeout in the fifth when he fanned Ichiro Suzuki for the second time.
The Mariners loaded the bases in the ninth on a double, walk and single off reliever Roberto Hernandez. Closer Joe Borowski came on and got Suzuki to hit into an RBI forceout before getting Jose Vidro to pop up and Jose Guillen to ground out for his 14th save.
Seattle began a 6,273-mile, four-city trip with its fifth loss in six games.
The Indians billed the delayed matchup as "Opening Day 3" and the club even tried to duplicate some of the blustery conditions that transformed Jacobs Field into a colossal snow globe last month.
Artificial snowmaking machines, perched atop the pedestrian walkway beyond left field, produced flurries that tumbled softly onto fans -- a few of them wearing Santa Claus hats -- as they arrived.
"I saw the fake snow," Sabathia said. "I can do without seeing that again. Besides that, it felt like a normal day."
There were ice sculptures in the plaza between the Jake and Quicken Loans Arena, and the club gave away snow tractors and ski weekends at a nearby resort. A couple fans even got into a snowball fight outside the park's gates.
Hargrove remains displeased with Major League Baseball's rescheduling of the series. Seattle has to make two more trips back to Cleveland, and the clubs will play a doubleheader on Sept. 26 when the Indians make their only trip to Seattle.
"I think we got the short end of the stick," he said. "The way they decided to make it up is not good."
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first off Baek on Victor Martinez's two-out RBI single.
A strong relay by Cleveland's defense kept it tied in the sixth.
Sabathia plunked Guillen with two outs and Richie Sexson doubled. Guillen tried to score from first but was thrown out by second baseman Barfield, who made a quick throw to Victor Martinez and Cleveland's catcher did a nice job of blocking Guillen from the plate. Notes: Paul Byrd was one strike away from beating the Mariners on April 6 when Hargrove came out of the dugout to argue that the snow was falling too hard to see. The move led to him getting heckled from Indians fans. "In 10 minutes, I went from being liked in Cleveland to being hated," said Hargrove, who managed the Indians from 1992-99. "I did what I thought I had to do." ... Sexson snapped an 0-for-16 slide with a third-inning single. ... Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 14 games. ... The Indians have won 10 of 11 at home.