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Published: 4/9/2013

Hafner knocks in 4 as Yankees roll

Ex-Indian spoils opener

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
New York Yankees' Brett Gardner, right, is tagged out by Cleveland Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth inning of a home opener baseball game. New York Yankees' Brett Gardner, right, is tagged out by Cleveland Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth inning of a home opener baseball game.
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CLEVELAND — Varying types of pain rocked the Cleveland Indians in their home opener Monday.

A bit of regret set in early after Travis Hafner, beset by injuries for much of his 10-year run with the Tribe, showed continued signs of a rebirth with the New York Yankees by smashing a three-run home run.

The seventh inning of a 11-6 loss brought embarrassment, with an error and a wild pitch eliciting the first boos of the season from a sold-out crowd that watched its fifth straight loss in a home opener.

And then there was physical pain. Carlos Santana, the club’s hottest hitter through seven games, writhed in pain after taking a fastball off his left (catching) thumb in the ninth inning. He left the game and underwent X-rays.

Yes, the first of 81 games at Progressive Field hurt a bit.

Tribe pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez failed to build on his promising first start, allowing seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, and the Tribe offense reverted much of the afternoon to the lineup that was shut out in back-to-back games last week.

One day after roughing up reigning American League Cy Young winner David Price at Tampa Bay, the Indians (3-4) failed to deliver an early knockout punch to Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda. Three runs in the first got a reliever warming up in the visitor’s bullpen, but Kuroda tiptoed in to the sixth inning and never gave up another run for the win. He threw 111 pitches, with about half coming in the first two innings.

“He was on the ropes,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It looked liked he was fighting it a little bit. We probably got a little aggressive. It would have been a great way to start the series to get him out early. To his credit, he stayed in there and did a really good job.”

Jimenez, on the other hand, could not soldier through a poor beginning. He allowed at least a run in all but one of the five innings he worked, serving up home runs to Hafner, who launched a 410-foot missile to center in the first, and to Robinson Cano, who added another homer in the sixth inning.

Jimenez’s final line showed seven runs on seven hits and three walks.

“I got to the mound, and I just tried to get it going, but nothing was working,” said Jimenez, who threw six innings and had a no-decision earlier against Toronto. “My fastball, breaking ball, delivery, nothing.”

Hafner, whose one-year deal with New York ended a bumpy stay in Cleveland, turned on a 2-0 pitch with two runners on in the first. He went 2 for 3 to bump his average to .391 and drove in four. Earning a mere $2 million in a clubhouse featuring many of the richest players in the game, Hafner — who played 66 games in 2012 — will prove to be a steal if his punch continues.

“He had some good swings,” Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall said.

Results of Santana’s postgame X-rays were unknown, though Francona said his catcher will be “sore at best.” It happened when Santana couldn’t catch a Chris Perez fastball and appeared to get hit on the area of the thumb not covered by his glove. Removing his stick from the lineup — Santana is batting .500 — would further weaken a lineup that was a source of optimism in the offseason.

Moments after Santana left the field, a fan ran onto it. He danced for 30 seconds or so before placing his hands behind his back as a police officer arrived.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com,

419-724-6160 or on

Twitter @AutulloBlade.



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