Game of the day: Indians 11, Reds 10: Francona, Indians shake off rust in Cactus League opener

2013-02-23T00:00:00Z Game of the day: Indians 11, Reds 10: Francona, Indians shake off rust in Cactus League openerThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

GOODYEAR - Terry Francona froze like a rookie manager.

When the winning run crossed home plate in the ninth inning Friday, giving Cleveland an 11-10 comeback win over the Cincinnati Reds in Francona's spring debut with the Indians, the two-time World Series winner wasn't quite sure what to do.

"I just don't know if everybody knew it was a walk-off," Francona said with a laugh. "Everybody was kind of looking around. Nobody knew how to act."

For Francona, a former Arizona Wildcats great and part-time Tucson resident, it had been a while.

Back in a dugout for the first time since parting ways with the Boston Red Sox after the 2011 season, Francona opened a new era with the revitalized Indians, who after luring him away from broadcasting in October, spent nearly $120 million on free agents to improve a club that lost 94 games last season.

Francona's got some work to do to get the Indians back into contention, but this was a start.

"Yeah, today was good," Francona said. "The starters got three innings just like we wanted. Everybody got an at-bat or two to kind of shake off the rust a little bit."

There was plenty of corrosion as the teams combined for 21 runs, 27 hits, four homers and some horrendous pitching.

The Reds led 10-8 going to the bottom of the ninth before the Indians loaded the bases against reliever Carlos Contreras. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker brought in Drew Hayes and Mike McDade, acquired on waivers from Toronto in November, sliced a three-run double into the left-field corner to win it.

Cincinnati's Joey Votto singled in his first two at-bats as the defending National League Central champions built a 5-0 lead in the first with some help from the Indians, who let an easy fly ball drop to score two runs. Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, reported to training camp healthy after missing 48 games in 2012 following two arthroscopic surgeries on his left knee. He's been given a spot on Team Canada's roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, but Votto wants to play a few more games and see how he feels before committing to the event.

Baker likes what he's seen so far from his first baseman.

"Joey looked great, actually," he said. "He was running the bases well. You didn't see any signs of anything. He swung the bat well."

Before the game, Francona lamented the Cactus League opener coming so early in camp.

"I wish we had a couple more days to do fundamentals, but we'll go play," he said. "We have a lot of stuff to go over because we're still new. It's a long spring."

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