Better late than never.
After starting in an early deficit with starting pitcher Corey Kluber struggling to keep the ball in the yard, timely hitting throughout the middle portion of the game and a three-run ninth inning gave the Cleveland Indians (1-0) a season-opening 8-5 win over the Texas Rangers (0-1) at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Six different Indians collected an RBI in the win, led by two from second baseman Jose Ramirez. Designated hitter Carlos Santana and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion each had a pair of hits in the win over the Rangers.
Cleveland Indians open regular season at Texas Rangers
Although the Rangers scored first, the Indians had an answer in the top of the third inning.
With one out, right fielder Abraham Almonte fought back from an 0-2 hole to draw a walk, and then, he motored over to third base when Santana swatted a 1-1 pitch from Rangers starter Yu Darvish to deep right field.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor lined into a sacrifice double play, but Almonte scored before the third out of the inning was recorded to even things at 1-1 after 2.5 innings of play.
The tie did not last long, as the Rangers went back to what they do best, hitting home runs in front of the home fans.
On the first pitch of the bottom of the third inning, center fielder Carlos Gomez crushed an offering from Kluber into seats in right field, but the Rangers were far from done putting runs on the board in their third trip to the plate.
Right fielder Nomar Mazara singled to shallow center field and former Indians first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli drew a walk after five pitches from Kluber, which put two runners on for second baseman Rougned Odor, who belted the first offering over the wall in right field for a 5-1 lead.
However, the Indians responded with a pair of runs on a home run from Ramirez off of Darvish as the Indians trimmed the deficit to two, 5-3.
With one out in the top of the fourth inning, Encarnacion hit a 3-1 pitch into left field for a single. Then, ahead in the count, 2-0, Ramirez drove a pitch from Darvish over the wall in center field for the Indians’ first home run of the season.
With one out in the top of the seventh inning after center fielder Tyler Naquin lined out to left field, Indians third baseman Yandy Diaz slapped a double to the wall in right field and advanced to third base on a wild pitch from Darvish.
Then, when Almonte swung over top of strike three on a ball in the dirt that skipped away from catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Diaz sprinted down the third-base line and cut the Rangers’ lead over the Indians to a single run, 5-4.
With just one swing of the bat, Encarnacion drew the Indians even with the Rangers in the top of the eighth inning of the season-opening game.
After left fielder Michael Brantley flied out to center field for the first out of the inning, Encarnacion stepped into the batter’s box and took a 1-2 offering from Rangers reliever Matt Bush deep and over the wall in left field to make it a 5-5 game.
Then, the Indians plated a trio of runs against closer Sam Dyson in the top of the ninth inning and took an 8-5 lead over the Rangers into the bottom half of the final frame in the season-opening game.
Center fielder Tyler Naquin got the inning rolling with a lead-off single to center, moved into scoring position when Diaz grounded out to his counterpart at “the hot corner,” and came around to score when Almonte lined an RBI single to center.
The Indians added a second run when Almonte came around to score after Santana smacked his second double of the game to right-center field.
Brantley drove in the third run of the frame with an RBI single to right field.