Inside baseball: Here comes the sun: Indians get in real home opener - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Inside baseball: Here comes the sun: Indians get in real home opener

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Posted: Sunday, April 15, 2007 7:12 am | Updated: 6:03 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Manager Eric Wedge broke out his sunglasses Friday when Cleveland finally got in a real home game.

Seven snow days cost Cleveland home series against Seattle and the Angels, although Wedge’s team managed to get in its three “home” games against Los Angeles by moving the series to Milwaukee and its dome.

“It’s crazy, but at least it had a roof,” Cleveland outfielder David Dellucci said.

The move made should have made commissioner (and Milwaukee guy) Bud Selig proud.

Not only was Miller Park in great shape despite the surprise series, the series drew an average of 17,499 after management offered $10 tickets and first-come, first-served seating.

Cleveland outdrew Baltimore in all three games, and outdrew Atlanta and Pittsburgh twice.

John Adams, who beats the drum at Cleveland games, and mascot Slider accompanied the team to Milwaukee, and Slider rode down Milwaukee mascot Bernie Brewer’s slide — a tradition when a Milwaukee player homers — when Kelly Shoppach and Casey Blake homered.

“I’ve heard the word ‘surreal’ a lot today,” Wedge said. “These fans were into it. That was nothing short of outstanding.”

Through it all, Cleveland remained miffed at Seattle manager Mike Hargrove for his actions in the April 7 game in Cleveland, which was halted, then postponed, with Paul Byrd one strike from a 4-0 victory.

Hargrove, known as the “human rain delay” during his playing days (many in Cleveland), came out to argue about the snow while Jose Lopez batted with two strikes and the bases loaded in the top of the fifth.

“They think they got away with something, and they did. We feel we got cheated,” said Byrd, who wondered where Hargrove was. “I was struggling, throwing neck balls and walking three guys earlier in the inning, when it was snowing just as hard.

“If the snow is so bad, come out then.”

BULLPEN NEAR FLAWLESS

San Diego general manager Kevin Towers prides himself on a strong bullpen, but this is ridiculous — the Padres’ relievers opened the season with 29 1/3 scoreless innings before Los Angeles stopped the streak Friday.

Hall of Famer-in-waiting Trevor Hoffman, coveted arm Scott Linebrink and sidearm find Cla Meredith lead a group that was 3-0 with two saves while holding opponents to a .132 batting average.

The stretch was longer than any in the majors last season, according to Elias, and threatened the franchise record of 32 innings in a 1978 pen anchored by Rollie Fingers.

“They all have good stuff and they know how to pitch. Nobody knows it better than I do,” said new San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy, who had the group in San Diego.

ON THE FLIP SIDE …

Houston’s Brad Lidge and Florida’s Jorge Julio lost their closer’s jobs less than two weeks into the season.

Lidge, who has not been the same since giving up Albert Pujols’ game-winning home run in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS, was removed after giving up a game-tying home run to Pittsburgh’s Xavier Nady to blow his only save chance in his first appearance. Dan Wheeler has the job.

“I’m very upset about it, so hopefully this will be something that motivates me and I can use it to my advantage,” said Lidge, who gave up 11 runs in nine spring training innings.

Julio blew his only two save chances and had a 14.73 ERA in his first five appearances and was removed despite no heir apparent, although rookie right-hander Henry Owens might get the first shot.

The Astros insist Lidge is not on the market.

NOT JOSHING

Cincinnati’s Josh Hamilton hit his first two professional home runs in Chase Field

last week, part of his triumphant return from injuries and drug problems that plagued him since he was the No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft.

“There were a few moments tonight when I thanked the Lord because there is no reason I should even be here,” Hamilton said after his Tuesday home run.

“A few times I just took my hat off and looked around. Taking it all in, hearing fans screaming at me. They yelled, ‘You suck,’ and I laughed because I thought, ‘Oh, man, you have no idea where I’ve been and where I’ve come from. You can say anything you want.’ ”

ALREADY GONE

Alex Rodriguez seems certain to bolt the Bronx via his opt-out clause after this season, and he is certainly making a strong early contract drive.

Rodriguez set a Yankees’ record with six home runs in his first seven games, the ninth player in history to hit at least six in his team’s first seven games. Mike Schmidt had seven in 1976.

“When A-Rod comes to the plate, as hot as he is, some danger’s going to be done,” Twins outfielder Torii Hunter said.

“His streaks aren’t 3-for-3 with three singles. He is 2-for-4 with a bomb (homer) and six RBIs.”

CRAWFORD HOSED

Carl Crawford was caught stealing twice in the same game Tuesday for his first time in his career, Texas’ Gerald Laird getting him at second base both times.

The Rangers said it was Jamey Wright’s quick 1.21-second delivery time to the plate, but Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said Texas over-watered the area around first.

“I don’t know if there had been a sprinkler problem or whatever … but it’s a little damp on the first-base side,” Maddon said.

The last word

“I hope he arouses the fire that’s dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger.”

K, as in Kazmir

Tampa Bay left-hander Scott Kazmir became the second AL pitcher since the inception of the designated hitter in 1973 to record his first eight outs by strikeout at Toronto last Sunday. The Yankees’ Ron Guidry got his first nine outs on strikeouts in a 1986 game at Texas.

It’s on me

Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett, driving back home after a weekend series in Milwaukee, stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel in Kenosha, Wis. After diners recognized him, Barrett picked up the check for everyone in the place.

In a pinch

St. Louis outfielder Chris Duncan continued a spring splurge with a pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning to beat Pittsburgh, 3-2. Duncan, the son of Cardinals’ pitching coach Dave Duncan, was 5-for-6 with two home runs as a pinch-hitter in spring training.

Bunt start

Mets big bopper Carlos Delgado, mired in a 5-for-27 slump, dropped a bunt single down the third base line against an over-shifted Philadelphia defense on Monday, the first bunt hit he can remember. “It’s hard to do when you are not good at it,” said Delgado, who finished the day 3-for-3. Looking ahead A-Rod and the Yankees meet Dice-K and Boston in a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park.

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