Some early offense helped the Cleveland Indians win their first season opener in five years - and deal the Chicago White Sox a disheartening loss.
The Indians look to build on that victory and stay aggressive at the plate when they continue their three-game set with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday.
Grady Sizemore homered off Jose Contreras on the second pitch of the game, highlighting a five-run first inning in Cleveland's 12-5 win over Chicago on Monday. Cleveland added four runs in the second and two in the third to help secure its first opening-day victory since 2002.
"Huge," Indians starter C.C. Sabathia, who allowed three runs in six innings for the win, said of Sizemore's homer. "Second pitch of the year and he goes deep. Hopefully, that'll be a tone-setter for our season.
"I think it's going to make everybody relax, to come out and have a good game like that, put up runs offensively, do the little things right. Hopefully, we can keep rolling."
Jake Westbrook, who will take the ball Wednesday, will try to help Cleveland to its first 2-0 start since it posted six straight wins to open 1998. The Indians went on to win the AL Central with 89 victories that year.
Westbrook went 15-10 with a 4.17 ERA last season and has won at least 14 games in each of the last three years. He was 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three starts against the White Sox in 2006, including two at Chicago.
The 12 runs Monday were the most by the Indians on opening day since 1926, when they scored 21 against St. Louis.
Sizemore went 2-for-4 with an RBI and scored three runs. Trot Nixon was 3-for-4 with three runs in his Indians debut, while Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta each had two hits and three RBIs.
"They're a great offensive club," Chicago's Paul Konerko said of Cleveland, which hit .280 last season to tie the White Sox for the fourth-best average in baseball. "They've been like that for the last few years. The good news is it was only one loss. It felt like it should have counted for more."
Jon Garland will try to prevent a repeat performance by the Indians lineup. The right-hander went 18-7 with a 4.51 ERA last season and has recorded the most wins on Chicago's staff the last two seasons, posting 18 victories each year.
Garland, however, has struggled against the Indians. He went 1-1 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts last season and is 7-10 with a 5.78 ERA in 20 appearances - 19 starts - in his career.
"I basically know everything they are trying to do and they know everything I'm trying to do," Garland told the team's official Web site. "It's a cat-and-mouse kind of game. It's a matter of making me pitch. Regardless of whether they are looking for it or ready for it, I'm going to have to make good pitches against a good team."
Offseason acquisition Darin Erstad hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat for Chicago and Konerko also homered. Erstad is 6-for-14 against Westbrook for his career, while Konerko is hitting .317 with a homer in 41 plate appearances against the Cleveland right-hander.
Chicago has not started 0-2 since dropping its first three games of 2003.