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Postby kaisy on Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:08 am

TORONTO -- The Rogers Centre was sold out, there was a rock star in the house and R.A. Dickeys knuckleball was dancing. All the ingredients seemed to be present under the dome for an Opening Day launch befitting the retooled Blue Jays. But Cleveland pitcher Justin Masterson kept the Jays bats in check and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera made key plays on defence and offence as the Indians spoiled Dickeys Toronto debut with a 4-1 win before an Opening Day crowd of 48,857 on Tuesday night. "I know theyre all disappointed," Toronto manager John Gibbons said of the fans. "Were not. Thats part of baseball. We just got outplayed tonight. But theyll be back. Weve got a good ball club. Theyll be back. Theyll have a fun, entertaining year this year, I believe." Still the loss may be a splash of cold water on the face of Toronto fans already planning a championship parade given the extensive, expensive roster remake over the winter. Cleveland planted a few seeds of reality under the dome but there is still plenty of the time for the Jays to harvest wins. Cabrera hit a two-run homer for the Indians, who took advantage of some early passed balls as Dickeys fledgling partnership with catcher J.P. Arencibia showed some teething problems. Dickey (0-1) went six innings in his first Opening Day start, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits with four strikeouts, four walks and a wild pitch. He threw 104 pitches, including 60 strikes. "Tonight was a real special night for me," Dickey said. "Sure because it was an Opening Night but the welcome I got from the fans was borderline supernatural. I mean it was pretty awesome. And again, deep down you want so badly to give them a great show and you want to entertain them and you want to pitch a one-hitter and all of that. "But I think everybody that came tonight understands that weve got a pretty good ballclub and the season is not won or lost on Opening Night." Adrenalin may have accounted for his knuckleball dancing too much, he suggested. "Early on, in particular, it was moving pretty violently at the plate and you saw that manifested in J.P. struggling with it a little bit," said Dickey, who went six innings for a 16th consecutive start dating back to last season with the Mets. Masterson (1-0) struck out five and walked four while giving up one earned run and three hits in his six innings. His pitch count was close to Dickeys: 103 pitches, 61 strikes. Indians closer Chris Perez earned the save. The Indians starter said it took a while to get his mechanics right since he was "pushing" the sinker at times "So once I was able to get that arm sliding and get through the ball, I was able to throw balls harder and in essence it makes it look like I was stronger as the game went on," he explained. "I just felt more comfortable within my mechanics. It was great. Guys were making some great plays behind me too. It was a good solid team effort today." Toronto left five on base over the first three innings and then Masterson found his touch -- he dismissed 11 in a row starting in the third. Some sharp Cleveland fielding also helped blunt the Toronto attack. The Jays starting lineup featured five newcomers: shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Melky Cabrera, third baseman Maicer Izturis, second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and Dickey. The quintet is due to make US$28.85 million this season. The five are among 11 new faces on the Jays 25-man revamped roster this season, boosting total payroll to north of $125 million. The Indians also boasted a new look with manager Terry Francona and free agent signings Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Mark Reynolds. Francona savoured the win. "I was so nervous the whole game. It surprised me," he said. "I think I kind of came to realize early in the game how much I care about these guys already. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I was a nervous wreck, which hopefully will go away -- hopefully not the caring part but the nervous part -- because I went through three things of tobacco. My tongue is like four sizes too big right now." Rush rock star Geddy Lee threw out the first pitch on a night that felt more like a playoff game than the season opener with an enthusiastic pompon-waving crowd. The first chant of "Lets go Blue Jays" echoed before the anthems, The sellout crowd made for some good viewing later, with a lower bowl section moving in unison -- like a wheat field in the wind -- to evade a foul ball whipped low into the stands. But the Indians did their bit to quell the fans. Dickey and Masterson both took their time finding their rhythm. Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young Award-winner was throwing in the high 70s m.p.h. while Masterson was in the mid-90s. Dickey, who came out to his beloved "Star Wars" music, opened with a ball that eluded Arencibia. The catcher had three passed balls on the night. "Sometimes you throw a good knuckleball, nobodys catching it," said Dickey. "Its just the way it is. But those happen once every couple of games. Well fix it. Hes going to be fine." Catching the knuckleball is challenging more than frustrating, said Arencibia. Misses have to be put behind you. "Because theres going to be pitches that he throws that no one could have caught -- unless you have a fish net thats for large fish, its not going to e an easy ball to catch," he said. Gibbons didnt blame his catcher, noting that his offence provided just one run. But he said Arencibia and Henry Blanco would both catch Dickey during the season. The Jays knuckleballer had No. 3 hitter Jason Kipnis so twisted in knots in the first inning that he let go of his bat during a swing and it landed in the second row behind the Jays dugout. A Toronto fan brandished it menacingly at the Indian second baseman, who was loudly cheered moments later as he struck out. Masterson opened with a bit of everything: walking a batter and hitting one but escaped unharmed thanks to a double play and strikeout. Cleveland went ahead in the second, courtesy of a single by Michael Brantley, two passed balls and a fielders choice by Lonnie Chisenhall. Drew Stubbs then singled in Reynolds, who had got on base via a walk, to make it 2-0. Toronto had men on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the second but Reyes grounded out. Dickey managed a 1-2-3 inning in the third, although his infield had to be on its toes to make it happen. Melky Cabrera scored in the third to cut the lead to 2-1 but the Jays could have had more, given they had the bases loaded and no one out thanks to a Cabrera single and a pair of walks. But Asdrubal Cabrera made a nice reflex stop on Adam Lind to trigger a double play -- with Melky Cabrera scoring -- and Masterson then struck out Arencibia to put out the fire. Asdrubal Cabrera showed his offensive skills in the fifth, slamming Dickeys 79th pitch of the night over the right-field fence with Bourn aboard to increase Clevelands lead to 4-1. "They played a heck of a game. They pitched really well," said Gibbons. "It turned into the Asdrubal Cabrera show, to be honest with you. The big double play he turned could have been a game changer, it was early in the game. And then of course the big home run there. But they shut us down pretty good." Dickey gave way to Aaron Loup, Sergio Santos and Brett Cecil. Joe Smith, Vinne Pistano and Perez followed Masterson. "Our bullpen held the game in check. We just couldnt really get anything going against their pitching. They were really good tonight," said Gibbons. Toronto had won six of its previous eight openers, including the last two. Cleveland, in contrast, had lost four straight and eight of its last 10. Brandon Thompson Jersey . -- Saints defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma plan to be present Friday when their lawyers are scheduled to cross examine former New Orleans defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams in Washington, D. Reggie Nelson Jersey .ca! What an exciting start to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final series played by two highly skilled and gritty Original Six teams in Chicago Wednesday night. ... ERSEY.html . -- Tony Gonzalez, who has more catches than any tight end in NFL history, announced Tuesday he is returning to the Falcons for the 2013 season. Andy Dalton bengals Jersey . The 28-year-old signed a one-year, $700,000 contract to play in Winnipeg this season. Kevin Huber Jersey . This time, he dropped down a bunt to advance the go-ahead run. After losing 93 games last season, the Red Sox arent worried about style. PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Locke barely made the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation out of spring training, winning a battle with Kyle McPherson almost by default after McPherson struggled and a better option never materialized. "You know when you break camp as the No. 5 guy, if something happens or if someone starts off hot down below you might be the guy that gets moved," Locke said. "Its kind of pitching to survive." Something thats no longer an issue for him as the de facto ace for the injury ravaged Pirates. The 25-year-old, who looks a couple days removed from high school, allowed two hits over seven innings as the Pirates silenced the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 on Friday night. Locke struck out five and walked one while needing just 75 pitches to get 21 outs. Locke (6-1) barely resembled the guy who walked seven Chicago Cubs in his previous start, keeping the Dodgers off balance by working both sides of the plate and not being afraid of letting his defence do the rest as his ERA dropped to 2.19. "He came to pitch," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Just very, very efficient. He made pitches the entire seven innings." Jason Grilli worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth for his National League-leading 24th save. Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run double in the third inning off Stephen Fife (1-2) and gave the Pirates some insurance when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Neil Walker in the ninth. The story, however, remains the soft-spoken left-hander from New Hampshire. Locke lost his first game of the year, a 6-2 defeat in Los Angeles on April 10. He hasnt been beaten since and appears to be growing stronger each time he takes the hill, a welcome development for a starting rotation in tatters. A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and Jeanmar Gomez all are on the disabled list, leaving Locke and veteran Francisco Liriano as the top-end starters for one of baseballs biggest first-half surprises. If the spotlight is getting to Locke, it doesnt show. "I wouldnt say (my) comfort level has changed at all," Locke said. "Its still uncomfortable. The confidence is definitely there. Thats something Ive gained into spring training and Ive been able to carry it through the first half of the season so far." Los Angeles didnt get a runner to second base while Locke was in the game, but had chances late to tie the game. Pittsburgh reliever Mark Melancon struck out pinch-hitter Juan Uribe with runners in scoring position in the eighth. Yaisel Puig and Nick Punto hit consecutive singles off Grilli to start the ninth. Grilli then retired Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Mark Ellis to remain a perfect 24 for 24 in save opportunities. "He threw eight pitches in that at-bat," Gonzalez said. "When I see eight pitches, I shouldnt strike out. I neeeded to put a ball in play and I should have.dddddddddddd That was bad hitting on my part." Something thats going around for Los Angeles, which has dropped five of six and is now a season-low 10 games under .500 (28-38). The Dodgers played without manager Don Mattingly, who served a one-game suspension for his role in the brawl with Arizona earlier in the week. Bench coach Trey Hillman filled in and watched his team get handcuffed by a player who is making $497,500. The average salary on the Dodgers is nearly $10 million. "(Locke) commanded three pitches pretty well and he pitched in a lot," Hillman said. "The fastball and the changeup were good and he kept us honest with the breaking ball all night." McCutchen gave the Pirates all the offence they would need when he doubled to the corner in right field in the third, scoring Alex Presley and Russell Martin. Fife, making just his fourth start of the season, settled down and escaped without further damage when McCutchen was gunned down at home trying to score on a ground ball and Clint Barmes flew out to left with the bases loaded later in the inning. Fife gave up six hits in five innings, walking three and striking out four. "It was a battle the whole time I was in there," Fife said. "I just couldnt get that easy inning." That wasnt a problem for Locke, who felt fresh after heading to the dugout in the middle of the seventh. He didnt put up any fight to stay in the game, not with the one-two punch of Melancon and Grilli available. It almost backfired. Andre Ethier singled with one out in the eighth and Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled to the gap in left-centre one batter later. Ethier held up at third rather than try to score, and it cost the Dodgers when pinch-hitter Juan Uribe struck out. Pittsburgh added an insurance run when McCutchen singled leading off the bottom of the eighth and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Neil Walker. Grilli made it stand up against the meat of Los Angeles lineup. NOTES: Locke singled off Fife in the third to end an 0-for-30 skid dating to last season ... Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis went 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts in his return from the disabled list. He also threw out two would-be base stealers. Ellis missed 14 games with a strained oblique. To make room for Ellis, Los Angeles designated C Ramon Hernandez for assignment. Hernandez hit .208 with three homers and six RBIs in 17 games with the Dodgers ... The series continues on Saturday when rookie Brandon Cumpton makes his major league debut for the Pirates, replacing Burnett. Clayton Kershaw (5-4, 1.88 ERA) starts for Los Angeles ... Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell pitched two perfect innings in relief. Howell is appealing a two-game suspension for his role in the brawl with the Diamondbacks. Reliever Ronald Belisario sat out to serve his one-game suspension. ' ' '
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