Murphy, Morgan help Indians win over Padres, 8-6
Kluber bounces back as Tribe gets back in the win column
CLEVELAND--A new season brings new faces and new contributions from the top and bottom of the lineup.
Behind a quality outing from starter Corey Kluber (1-1, 7.71 ERA), the Indians found themselves back in the win column Tuesday night, defeating the San Diego Padres, 8-6.
Facing the National League Padres in Interleague play for the first time since June 15, 2008, the Tribe took advantage of defensive miscues by San Diego in the first game of a three-game series.
Offensively, Cleveland (4-3) jumped out to the early lead in the third inning, scoring three runs without recording a single hit off Padres starter Tyson Ross (0-2, 4.35 ERA). The right-hander walked two before the Indians capitalized on a pass ball in the inning. It was the first time the team would score in a game first since their season opener against Oakland.
Despite a three run cushion, the Friars quickly answered back with two runs of their own off Kluber, on a two-run double by second baseman Jedd Gyorko in the fourth.
"He had to pitch from the first hitter of the game because they had runners on base," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "But he reached back and started changing speeds. There was a lot of swing and miss."
Kluber did answer back nicely, tossing six innings allowing three runs on nine hits, striking out nine without issuing a walk.
Acquired from the Padres in the three-team trade that sent former Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook to St. Louis back in 2010, Kluber looked a lot like the pitcher he was one year ago.
"There was a lot of traffic around early on, but I was able to work around it and I think that gives you a little bit of a confidence boost," he said.
Nine days into the 2014 season, it was the first win by an Indians starter this year.
"He kept the guys off balance, mixed in his curveball with his fastball in, and he did what he was supposed to do and kept us in the game," Morgan said. "As long as you keep us in the game, we're going to do what it takes."
Playing in Japan all of 2013, the 33 year-old had another great day at the plate, as he continues to impress in his first stint in Cleveland. Morgan went 3-for-5 with two RBI Tuesday night, where he's now hitting .389 on the young season.
"That's the only way I know how to play is with energy," the center fielder said. "It feels good just to be in this position."
Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the home half of the fourth, another new outfielder in Murphy stole the show with one swing of the bat. Taking advantage of an error by Ross, Murphy belted a three-run homer to the right field seats to give the Tribe a 6-2 lead.
Coming off a 4-for-5 performance in Sunday's series finale against Minnesota, the former Texas Rangers slugger stayed red hot, collecting two more hits Tuesday night.
"I don't know if the Lord is up there swinging the bat for me or what, but I stepped in the cage the other day and the feel was there," he said.
Over the last two ballgames, Murphy is hitting .750 (6-for-8) with three doubles, a homer and five RBI.
"Like I said the other day, it's one game. Now it's two games, so hopefully something is working here and it will continue," Murphy said. "It's day and night. I haven't felt this feeling in awhile."
Gyorko pushed the Padres offense closer with an RBI single in the sixth, but the Tribe's two new faces would outshine, answering right back just a half inning later.
Hitting at the top and bottom of the lineup respectively, Murphy roped an RBI double to deep center before Morgan added an RBI knock himself to give the Wahoo's a five run advantage they wouldn't waiver.
"It just kind of goes to show you how in the beginning of the year, things can get skewed," Francona said. "It allows everyone, especially new guys the chance to relax and then play their game, which is good."
The San Diego offense wouldn't go quietly, adding three runs (one earned) in the top of the ninth off struggling reliever Vinnie Pestano. But, closer John Axford took over to record the final out in the inning, notching his third save and the victory.
"That's just the guys coming together and doing what we're supposed to do to win," Morgan said. "It's not going to be one person, it's going to be a whole team unit, and that's what's going to give us a lot of success."
Up next for Indians: Two games for the price of one, as the Tribe and Padres square off in a traditional doubleheader Wednesday. Right-hander Zach McAllister (0-0, 6.75 ERA) will go for Cleveland in game one against left-hander Eric Stults (0-1, 11.25 ERA) at 12:05 p.m. Game two (approx. 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first game) will feature rookie phenom Trevor Bauer (first start) versus southpaw Robbie Erlin (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Also it is sad to see Vinnie pitch of late. Velocity being down has hurt his effectiveness.
The Indians did sign Mark Lowe to minor deal. Pitched last nite in Columbus. Could become an option by the end of the month.
Pestano is done!!!