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Cleveland at Texas

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Cleveland (0-1)000000100150
Texas (1-0) «04003002x9150

Rangers pound Cy Young winner Lee, Millwood baffles Indians

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks celebrates opening day almost like Christmas, complete with a family dinner the night before. This year's festivities included some "pretty optimistic" talk that he joked might only have been partly caused by the wine.

Maybe the expectations aren't so farfetched.

Former President George W. Bush throws out first pitch

The Rangers can still hit. And if they keep pitching the way Kevin Millwood and the relievers did in a 9-1 opening victory against the Cleveland Indians on Monday, this could finally be their breakout season.

"There's that quiet confidence about this team. Not many people share that with us, but that's OK," Millwood said. "We believe in each other. That's how it felt before the game, during the game and after the game."

Millwood allowed one run over seven innings in his fourth consecutive opening day start, and the Rangers scored seven runs in five innings off AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.

Hank Blalock and Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered for the Rangers, whose 15 hits off four pitchers matched their most in an opener.

This time, the pitching was just as good.

"Certainly did what we wanted to do -- pitched well, good defense and did what we do best, swing the bats," manager Ron Washington said. "It was a very good beginning."

Texas led the majors with a .283 batting average and 901 runs scored last season, but finished with a losing record -- its eighth in nine years -- because of a majors-worst 5.37 ERA and the game's most overworked bullpen.

Team president Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher known for work ethic, has since emphasized tougher workouts for every pitcher while stressing that starters go deeper into games. The Rangers hired Mike Maddux as their new pitching coach.

Millwood, who lost at least 15 pounds with extensive cardio work and changes to his diet during the offseason, threw 113 pitches before C.J. Wilson and Frank Francisco both had perfect innings.

"I think it made a big difference. Even after I came out of the game, I felt like I could still go," Millwood said. "That's a great sign, that on April 6, I can throw 100-something pitches and still feel like I've got something left."

Millwood would guarantee his $12 million contract for 2010 if he pitches at least 180 innings this season. If the 34-year-old right-hander stays healthy -- he was on the disabled list four times the past two seasons with nagging injuries -- and has more games like this, that shouldn't be a problem. He struck out five and allowed five hits, all singles.

"If he's healthy, you'll see more of what you saw today," Washington said.

Cleveland's only run against him came with two outs in the seventh when Travis Hafner scored on a wild pitch.

Lee was 22-3 with an AL-leading 2.54 ERA last season, when the left-hander never gave up more than six runs in a game -- one of those starts was in a victory at the Rangers.

Texas jumped ahead with four runs in the second off Lee, who allowed only four earned runs in his first seven starts a year ago.

"I felt he was hitting some spots, but he made a few mistakes and they didn't miss 'em," manager Eric Wedge said.

Blalock hit a one-hopper that ricocheted off Lee's forearm in the second. Wedge and a trainer went out to check on Lee, who threw one warmup pitch and said he was OK.

"When they ran out, I could have done without that. ... It's going to have to be dangling or broken before I'm going to come out," Lee said. "It's fine. I got it in the forearm. It'll probably be a little sore, but it'll be fine. I don't think it affected my pitches."

But Marlon Byrd then doubled and the Rangers scored all their runs that inning with two outs. Saltalamacchia had a two-run single before Elvis Andrus, the 20-year-old shortstop who had never before played above Double-A, doubled in his first at-bat. Ian Kinsler, who finished with three hits, followed with a two-run double to make it 4-0.

Blalock, primarily the designated hitter after being the opening day third baseman the past seven seasons, hit a high flyball in the fifth that kept carrying in the wind and dropped into the right-field seats.

Lee, whose ascension to the top of the Indians rotation was cleared by the trade of CC Sabathia to Milwaukee last summer, also struggled throughout spring training. Lee was 0-3 with a 12.46 ERA in six starts, including a game against Texas when he allowed 10 runs -- nine earned -- in 2 2/3 innings.

"It was a good way to start," said Michael Young, the five-time All-Star shortstop now playing third base. "We know we have to have a lot of efforts like the one we had today in order to have the season we want to have."

Ryan certainly liked what he saw.

"That was a complete team effort. We were clicking on all cylinders," Ryan said. "That was fun."

Notes

  • Cleveland has lost five of its past seven openers.
  • The Rangers are 19-19 in home openers since moving to Texas, 7-9 at Rangers Ballpark.
  • Former president George W. Bush threw the ceremonial first pitch, a high strike.
  • Millwood is the first Rangers pitcher to start four consecutive openers. Ryan and Charlie Hough both started three in a row. Millwood had lost his first three.
  • Two rows of luxury seats were added closer to home plate as part of $4 million in offseason improvements at Rangers Ballpark. There were at least two foul pops in those areas that would have been likely outs in the past.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Hank Blalock kicks off the season with success by hitting a three-run shot against Cliff Lee.  (AP)
Hank Blalock kicks off the season with success by hitting a three-run shot against Cliff Lee. (AP)

Players of the Game
Texas

H. Blalock
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
Texas

K. Millwood
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 1
K 5
 
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore, CF4010010 .250
Mark DeRosa, 3B3000111 .000
Victor Martinez, 1B4010001 .250
Travis Hafner, DH4110001 .250
Jhonny Peralta, SS3000011 .000
Shin-Soo Choo, RF3010000 .333
Kelly Shoppach, C3000021 .000
Ben Francisco, LF3010010 .333
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B3000011 .000
Totals3015017  
Cleveland Indians
Cliff Lee (L,0-1) 51077151 12.60
Masa Kobayashi 1100000 0.00
Rafael Perez 1000000 0.00
Jensen Lewis 1422021 18.00
Pitches-Strikes - Cliff Lee 79-53, Masa Kobayashi 8-7, Rafael Perez 8-5, Jensen Lewis 28-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Cliff Lee 3-7, Masa Kobayashi 1-2, Jensen Lewis 1-0
Batters Faced - Cliff Lee 26, Masa Kobayashi 4, Rafael Perez 3, Jensen Lewis 7
Texas Rangers
Ian Kinsler, 2B5132000 .600
Michael Young, 3B4021111 .500
Josh Hamilton, CF5120003 .400
Nelson Cruz, RF5120012 .400
Hank Blalock, DH4223011 .500
Marlon Byrd, LF4110001 .250
Chris Davis, 1B4000023 .000
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C4223010 .500
Elvis Andrus, SS4110010 .250
Totals39915917  
Batting
2B - Ian Kinsler 2 (2, Lee, Lewis), Marlon Byrd (1, Lee), Elvis Andrus (1, Lee)
HR - Hank Blalock (1, Lee), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (1, Lewis)
RBI - Ian Kinsler 2 (2), Michael Young (1), Hank Blalock 3 (3), Jarrod Saltalamacchia 3 (3)
2-OUT RBI - Ian Kinsler 2 (2), Michael Young (1), Jarrod Saltalamacchia 2 (2)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Kinsler-Andrus-Davis, Andrus-Davis
Texas Rangers
Kevin Millwood (W,1-0) 7511150 1.29
C.J. Wilson 1000010 0.00
Frank Francisco 1000010 0.00
WP - Kevin Millwood (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Kevin Millwood 113-72, C.J. Wilson 10-6, Frank Francisco 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kevin Millwood 8-6
Batters Faced - Kevin Millwood 25, C.J. Wilson 3, Frank Francisco 3
Game Information
Attendance - 49916
Game Time - 2:33
Temperature - 49
Umpires - Home - Jerry Crawford, First Base - Tom Hallion, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Ed Hickox