Terry Francona spent eight seasons competing with the New York Yankees for AL East supremacy.
On Monday, the Cleveland Indians manager will face his former adversary in his new team’s first home game.
As Boston’s manager from 2004-11, Francona led the club to World Series crowns in 2004 and 2007. The ’04 championship - the Red Sox’s first in 86 years - came after defeating the Yankees in the AL championship series, where they became the first team to win a postseason series after being down 3-0.
Francona’s focus now is helping the Indians make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Cleveland (3-3) made it back to .500 with a season-high 17 hits as it roughed up reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price in Sunday’s 13-0 victory over Tampa Bay. The Indians had seven hits and were shut out in the first two games of the series.
“When you get this game figured out, let me know,” Francona said.
The Indians will try to keep the momentum going as they open a season high-tying 10-game homestand with four against the Yankees.
Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 1.50 ERA) takes the hill in the opener looking to build on a solid season debut. The veteran right-hander struck out six in six innings of Wednesday’s 3-2, 11-inning win over Toronto.
“I thought he was outstanding,” Francona said of Jimenez, who had career worsts with 17 losses and a 5.40 ERA last season. “His secondary stuff, his direction to the plate was down. His offspeed, especially his changeup, was really good.”
Jimenez, though, was 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against New York last season - his first full year with Cleveland.
The Yankees (2-4), however, barely resemble last season’s team with All-Stars Derek Jeter Alex Rodriguez Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the disabled list. They stumbled out of the gate before pounding out 13 hits in Sunday’s 7-0 win over Detroit to avoid a three-game sweep.
Hiroki Kuroda (0-1, 13.50) is expected to get the ball, and an injury on his throwing hand is no longer a concern. The 38-year-old lasted just 1 1-3 innings - his shortest big league start - in Wednesday’s 7-4 home loss to Boston after suffering a bruised right middle finger when he tried to grab a Shane Victorino liner. X-rays and a CT scan were negative.
“Against the lefties I was unable to make my pitches,” Kuroda said through a translator after hitting two batters and giving up two runs. “I wasn’t able to put my strength on the ball.”
The right-hander, who went through a bullpen session Friday and threw more on Sunday, was 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA in two starts versus Cleveland last season.
Reynolds has taken over at DH for Travis Hafner who signed with the Yankees this past offseason after spending a decade with Cleveland. Hafner, eighth on the Indians’ all-time home run list with 200, has hit safely in all six games with New York and is batting .350.
Former Yankee Nick Swisher is off to a much slower start with his new team, batting .182 (4 for 22) with one RBI. Swisher hit 105 homers and drove in 349 runs with New York from 2009-12.
The Yankees took five of six from the Indians last season, including two of three at Progressive Field from Aug. 24-26.