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Murphy, Morgan help Indians win over Padres, 8-6

Kluber bounces back as Tribe gets back in the win column

Murphy, Morgan help Indians win over Padres, 8-6
David Murphy launches his first home run as an Indian against Padres Tuesday (Photo: AP)
April 9, 2014
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CLEVELAND--A new season brings new faces and new contributions from the top and bottom of the lineup.

Outfielders David Murphy and Nyjer Morgan are two of those new faces, as both are quickly making names for themselves in their new city.

Behind a quality outing from starter Corey Kluber (1-1, 7.71 ERA), the Indians found themselves back in the win column Tuesday night, defeating the San Diego Padres, 8-6.

Facing the National League Padres in Interleague play for the first time since June 15, 2008, the Tribe took advantage of defensive miscues by San Diego in the first game of a three-game series.

Offensively, Cleveland (4-3) jumped out to the early lead in the third inning, scoring three runs without recording a single hit off Padres starter Tyson Ross (0-2, 4.35 ERA). The right-hander walked two before the Indians capitalized on a pass ball in the inning. It was the first time the team would score in a game first since their season opener against Oakland.

Despite a three run cushion, the Friars quickly answered back with two runs of their own off Kluber, on a two-run double by second baseman Jedd Gyorko in the fourth.

"He had to pitch from the first hitter of the game because they had runners on base," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "But he reached back and started changing speeds. There was a lot of swing and miss."

Kluber did answer back nicely, tossing six innings allowing three runs on nine hits, striking out nine without issuing a walk.

Acquired from the Padres in the three-team trade that sent former Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook to St. Louis back in 2010, Kluber looked a lot like the pitcher he was one year ago.

"There was a lot of traffic around early on, but I was able to work around it and I think that gives you a little bit of a confidence boost," he said.

Nine days into the 2014 season, it was the first win by an Indians starter this year.

"He kept the guys off balance, mixed in his curveball with his fastball in, and he did what he was supposed to do and kept us in the game," Morgan said. "As long as you keep us in the game, we're going to do what it takes."

Playing in Japan all of 2013, the 33 year-old had another great day at the plate, as he continues to impress in his first stint in Cleveland. Morgan went 3-for-5 with two RBI Tuesday night, where he's now hitting .389 on the young season.

"That's the only way I know how to play is with energy," the center fielder said. "It feels good just to be in this position."

Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the home half of the fourth, another new outfielder in Murphy stole the show with one swing of the bat. Taking advantage of an error by Ross, Murphy belted a three-run homer to the right field seats to give the Tribe a 6-2 lead.

Coming off a 4-for-5 performance in Sunday's series finale against Minnesota, the former Texas Rangers slugger stayed red hot, collecting two more hits Tuesday night.

"I don't know if the Lord is up there swinging the bat for me or what, but I stepped in the cage the other day and the feel was there," he said.

Over the last two ballgames, Murphy is hitting .750 (6-for-8) with three doubles, a homer and five RBI.

"Like I said the other day, it's one game. Now it's two games, so hopefully something is working here and it will continue," Murphy said. "It's day and night. I haven't felt this feeling in awhile."

Gyorko pushed the Padres offense closer with an RBI single in the sixth, but the Tribe's two new faces would outshine, answering right back just a half inning later.

Hitting at the top and bottom of the lineup respectively, Murphy roped an RBI double to deep center before Morgan added an RBI knock himself to give the Wahoo's a five run advantage they wouldn't waiver.

"It just kind of goes to show you how in the beginning of the year, things can get skewed," Francona said. "It allows everyone, especially new guys the chance to relax and then play their game, which is good."

The San Diego offense wouldn't go quietly, adding three runs (one earned) in the top of the ninth off struggling reliever Vinnie Pestano. But, closer John Axford took over to record the final out in the inning, notching his third save and the victory.

"That's just the guys coming together and doing what we're supposed to do to win," Morgan said. "It's not going to be one person, it's going to be a whole team unit, and that's what's going to give us a lot of success."

Up next for Indians: Two games for the price of one, as the Tribe and Padres square off in a traditional doubleheader Wednesday. Right-hander Zach McAllister (0-0, 6.75 ERA) will go for Cleveland in game one against left-hander Eric Stults (0-1, 11.25 ERA) at 12:05 p.m. Game two (approx. 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first game) will feature rookie phenom Trevor Bauer (first start) versus southpaw Robbie Erlin (0-0, 0.00 ERA).

 

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

User Comments

Tony
April 9, 2014 - 8:53 AM EDT
Said this in another thread, but the Indians could have a lot of tough decisions looming (which is a good thing for once). If Aguilar is tearing it up, he's the right-handed run producing bat they desperately need to finish off the lineup. I really believe that once Cabrera is subbed out for Lindor and if Aguilar is the real deal that this lineup is going to take off in Cleveland and be much more consistent. As for Bourn and Morgan, this is great. Morgan is (hopefully) going to pressure Bourn into playing better. I will tell you right now, and I have said this before, there is not much different between the two as hitters.....in fact I would even say Morgan is slightly better. Yet the Indians are paying Bourn $13M a year and Morgan $1M a year. And it's not like there is $10M worth of defense and running to separate them. A complete overpay of Bourn....never was a fan of that signing.
Tony
April 9, 2014 - 8:52 AM EDT
Rich, the slider was flat and was very hittable. When you don't have a good secondary offering and no longer have the zip to your fastball, you are in trouble unless you have pinpoint accuracy on your pitches. He's a far cry from the pitcher he was two years ago. I know they say otherwise but to me he's a guy that has something physically wrong with him since the elbow issue last year. Ever since his stuff has disappeared. And I think some of it is now mental with him. I'm as big a fan as anyone of Vinnie....followed him from the start in the minors and was a great story....but sometimes a guy needs to step back and take a deep breath. I think Columbus may allow that.
Hawk1228
April 9, 2014 - 8:51 AM EDT
Going to be very interesting how the front office handles the outfield situation once Bourn comes off the DL I cant see them carrying 5 outfielders with four batting from the left side. maybe a trade using Nyjer Morgan.
Also it is sad to see Vinnie pitch of late. Velocity being down has hurt his effectiveness.
Rich
April 9, 2014 - 8:48 AM EDT
Vinnie made some very good pitches that resulted in a swing-and-miss or locked the hitter up for a called strike. But he also made a couple of bad pitches that resulted in a HR and a double. He just needs to get more consistency. He needs regular work. But I saw some very good pitches. If Swisher doesn't boot a routine ground ball, Vinnie is out of it with one run allowed.
Tony
April 9, 2014 - 8:41 AM EDT
I would be surprised if the Indians don't option out a reliever today to call up a fresh arm for the doubleheader. If they do that, then you would have to believe Pestano is the one being sent down. He's just not right and needs a chance to step back and get things together. A stop in Columbus can do him some good.
Walter
April 9, 2014 - 8:30 AM EDT
I hope CC Lee get the call up. Although Austin Adams has also started out strong in Columbus. Another bad outing by Wood could put his spot in jeopardy.

The Indians did sign Mark Lowe to minor deal. Pitched last nite in Columbus. Could become an option by the end of the month.
Steve
April 9, 2014 - 8:08 AM EDT
Time to give another reliever the ball as a set up man for Axford.
Pestano is done!!!

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