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Cabrera carries Indians with glove, bat

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- This was supposed to be the great unveiling of the new, improved Toronto Blue Jays.

It wound up being Asdrubal Cabrera's night.

The Cleveland Indians shortstop started a spectacular double play on a hard-hit ground ball with the bases loaded in the third inning, and he hit a two-run homer in the fifth against Toronto starter R.A. Dickey.

Those two plays made a big difference as four Cleveland pitchers held the Blue Jays to four hits in a 4-1 Indians victory Tuesday before a disappointed sellout crowd of 48,857 at Rogers Centre on opening night.

"They played a heck of a game," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They pitched really well, and 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. They shut us down pretty good."

Right-hander Justin Masterson (1-0) held the Blue Jays to three hits and one run over six innings, and Chris Perez pitched the ninth for the save, providing Terry Francona with a victory in his first game managing the Indians.

"I tell you what, obviously I've been doing this for a long time, but I was so nervous the whole game," Francona said. "It surprised me. 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."

Masterson, who worked on the wild side in the early innings, gave up four walks and struck out five.

"There were times I was pushing the sinker," Masterson said. "That's what was causing a lot of trouble, just pushing it up there. 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. I just felt more comfortable within my mechanics. It was great. Guys were making some great plays behind me, too."

Dickey (0-1) allowed five hits, four walks and four runs, three earned, while striking out four in six innings. The knuckleballer, who won the National League Cy Young Award with the New York Mets before being traded in the offseason to Toronto, made one wild pitch. Catcher J.P. Arencibia was charged with three passed balls.

"It was moving well," Dickey said of his knuckler. "Even the home run was a knuckleball that was up. I didn't give up very many hard-hit balls, and that's a sign of a lot of movement. 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. That's part of it."

Gibbons, who considered having a personal catcher for Dickey, like backup Henry Blanco, said he would team Arencibia with the knuckleballer again.

"I wouldn't see why not," Gibbons said. "Anytime you're catching a knuckleball, I don't care who it is, you're going to miss some balls. I've seen knuckleball pitchers in the past who have had their own personal catchers, and they miss some, too. He'll catch him.

"I'm sure (Arencibia) is frustrated by it. He's going to take some heat for it, from himself. We didn't lose the game because of that. I mean, we scored one run."

That was mainly because Masterson recovered from his early problems.

"He was probably pitching better when we took him out than he was earlier in the game," Francona said. "I just thought that was enough for a first start."

Joe Smith took over from Masterson in the seventh and had a 1-2-3 inning before being replaced for the eighth by Vinnie Pestano, who also set the Blue Jays down in order. Perez gave up a double to Arencibia with two outs in the ninth.

Left-hander Aaron Loup replaced Dickey and pitched 1 1/3 innings before allowing a walk to Michael Brantley in the eighth. Sergio Santos took over and allowed a double to Carlos Santana to move Brantley to third, but Santos struck out his next two batters to keep the Blue Jays within three runs. Left-hander Brett Cecil retired the Indians in order in the ninth.

The Indians scored twice in the second inning, aided by two passed balls. Brantley led off with a single. He took second on a passed ball with one out. Mark Reynolds walked. A passed ball put the runners at second and third. Lonnie Chisenhall's groundout to shortstop scored one run, and a single to left by Drew Stubbs scored the second. One of the runs was earned.

The Blue Jays scored one run in the third after loading the bases with none out. Melky Cabrera led off with a single to right field and continued to second on Stubbs' error on the drive. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion walked to load the bases, but Adam Lind's hard smash to short that nearly knocked down Asdrubal Cabrera was turned into a double play as a run scored.

"I thought our defense was terrific," Francona said. "We played a very sound defensive game and, on top of that, ... made some spectacular plays."

Asdrubal Cabrera gave Cleveland a 4-1 lead in the fifth when his homer to right followed Michael Bourn's leadoff single.

"It's not easy," Asdrubal Cabrera said of hitting Dickey. "He's got really good stuff. I'd say I got lucky there."

NOTES: Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie (left oblique strain) has resumed throwing in Dunedin, Fla., and could play in a minor league game by the weekend. ... Asdrubal Cabrera made his fourth consecutive Opening Day start at shortstop for the Indians after being the season-opening second baseman for two years in a row. Cabrera is the third Opening Day shortstop for the Indians over the past 20 years, joining Omar Vizquel (1994-2004) and Jhonny Peralta (2005-2009). ... Toronto put right-handers Michael Schwimer (right lat strain) and Dustin McGowan (right shoulder strain) on the disabled list to start the season. ... After the three-game series in Toronto, the Indians travel to play the Tampa Bay Rays for three games at Tropicana Field, giving them six consecutive games on artificial turf to open the season. After that, all of their remaining regular-season games are on natural grass.
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