Roundup: New-look Braves fall late to Tigers
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The first game of spring training can provide some unusual scenarios.
Such as Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera facing Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel -- in the third inning.
Coming off baseball's first Triple Crown season since 1967, Cabrera grounded out against Kimbrel before finishing his day with a drive to the warning track in center field, not a factor as the Tigers beat the Braves 2-1 Friday in the opening exhibition game of the year between big league teams.
Cabrera, who led the AL with 44 homers, 139 RBIs and a .330 average, got a chance to pose with Mickey and Minnie Mouse before batting practice, a nod to the game being played at the Braves' Disney World complex. Then, to chants of "MVP! MVP!" from the stands, he grounded out in the first against Tim Hudson.
In the third, Kimbrel took over for Hudson and promptly walked the first two hitters. The closer fanned Quinton Berry and got Omar Infante on a flyout before Cabrera stepped in again.
Kimbrel, coming off a season with 42 saves, 1.01 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings, doled out a steady stream of fastballs in the mid-90s. One of them went all the way to the backstop, allowing the runners to move up, but Cabrera grounded a 3-2 pitch to shortstop Andrelton Simmons that ended the threat.
"It's a little different than rolling out there in the ninth inning," Kimbrel said. "But I was just getting in my work."
Both Cabrera (Venezuela) and Kimbrel (United States) will soon be leaving camp to play in the World Baseball Classic. They could wind up facing each other with a lot more on the line.
Justin and B.J. Upton made their Atlanta spring training debuts. The brothers both went 0 for 2, then scooted out of the clubhouse before the media was allowed in.
The Uptons are part of a new era for the Braves, who must replace retired third baseman Chipper Jones, a stalwart for nearly two decades in the middle of the order. B.J. was signed as a free agent to a $75.25 million, five-year contract, while Justin was acquired in a blockbuster deal with Arizona.
"We do have a lot of new faces," said right fielder Jason Heyward, who started alongside the Uptons in one of baseball's most touted outfield trios. "We just want to get a feel of things, talking and communicating."
The Tigers were hitless through seven innings but went ahead in the eighth, long after the starters had departed. Tyler Collins tripled to right-center off Ryan Buchter, and Jeff Kobernus followed with another triple to nearly the same spot. Hernan Perez's sacrifice fly brought home Kobernus.
Joey Terdoslavich homered for Atlanta in the ninth, and Ramiro Pena nearly tied it with a drive that was hauled in against the wall in left. Jose Alvarez retired Ernesto Mejia on a grounder with the potential tying run on base, earning the save.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Cleveland Indians opened a new era under manager Terry Francona with an 11-10 comeback win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.
Mike McDade hit a three-run double with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning for the Indians, who followed a 94-loss season by hiring Francona and spending nearly $120 million on free agents.
Joey Votto singled in his first two at-bats for Cincinnati, which took a 10-8 lead into the ninth. The 2010 NL MVP reported to training camp healthy after missing 48 games in 2012 following two arthroscopic surgeries on his left knee.
It was Francona's first game as a manager since the end of the 2011 season, when he parted ways with Boston after winning two World Series titles with the Red Sox.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rookie Jedd Gyorko hopes to become the second baseman for the San Diego Padres on opening day. A grand slam in the first game of spring training can only help his cause.
Gyorko homered over the left-center field fence during a six-run first inning Friday and the Padres beat the Seattle Mariners.
Mariners starter Hector Noesi, seeking a spot in the back end of the rotation, was gone before the first inning was over. He threw 42 pitches, allowed four hits and was charged with four earned runs.
An error charged to Mariners left fielder Raul Ibanez contributed to the big inning, as he lost Everth Cabrera's leadoff fly ball in the sun. Chris Denorfia hit an RBI single and Will Venable drew a bases-loaded walk.
Casper Wells hit a two-run homer for Seattle.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Will Smith came into spring training as the longshot in Kansas City's four-man competition to be the fifth starter.
The young left-hander got the first chance and impressed, throwing two perfect innings with a strikeout and outpitching two Texas starters already with rotation spots in a spring training opener that ended in a tie after nine innings Friday.
"I'm trying my hardest. That's not my job to worry about. My job is to go out there and get outs, help my team win," Smith said. "If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it's not my call."
Smith, who was 6-9 with a 5.32 ERA in 16 starts as a rookie last season, is competing for the No. 5 spot with former No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar, right-hander Luis Mendoza and left-hander Bruce Chen.
Nelson Cruz and Yangervis Solarte homered for Texas.
Solarte's tying, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Blaine Boyer followed Brandon Allen's two-out triple. The game was called after the inning ended.
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