Oakland, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Nyjer Morgan provided the winning run in the ninth inning with a sacrifice fly as the Cleveland Indians took a 2-0 win over the Oakland Athletics in the opener for both clubs on Monday.
Nick Swisher provided an RBI single following Morgan's sac fly, while Asdrubal Cabrera and David Murphy scored the runs for the Indians, who fell to the Rays in the one-game wild card playoff last season.
Justin Masterson was solid in his third straight Opening Day start as he gave up just three hits and a walk with four strikeouts over seven innings for Cleveland, which had made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Cody Allen (1-0) retired the final two batters of the eighth to pick up the win.
Sonny Gray had a strong start for Oakland as well, going six innings and giving up five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. Jim Johnson (0-1) was tagged for both runs in the ninth to take the loss.
"I sucked today, I'll admit it," Johnson said.
Josh Donaldson had two of the five hits for the Athletics, who won the AL West for a second straight season, but again lost to the Tigers in the divisional round.
Oakland threatened in the eighth as the team had runners on first and second with one out. Donaldson hit a long fly ball to center that bounced off the wall, but it only moved the runners up a base as they were waiting to see if the ball would be caught. Jed Lowrie then struck out and Brandon Moss grounded out to end the frame.
Cabrera walked to start the ninth and Murphy followed with a single. After Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Morgan lofted a fly ball to center to score Cabrera. Swisher gave the Indians an insurance run with a single to center.
John Axford gave up two walks in the ninth to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but struck out Nick Punto to pick up the save.
Cleveland got a leadoff walk from Carlos Santana to start the fourth and Michael Brantley followed with a double. After Ryan Raburn struck out, Cabrera hit a liner back to the mound that hit off Gray, who quickly recovered the ball and fired home to catch Brantley. Cleveland manager Terry Francona came out to challenge the call, but it was upheld.
"I just wanted to check and see if Jaso had blocked the plate. We've all discussed the new rulings and what you're allowed to do and what you aren't," Francona said.
Murphy then grounded out to end the inning.
Oakland got runners to second and third in the sixth with one out, but Lowrie grounded out to the mound, and Moss flied out to end the frame.
Cleveland won five of the seven games against Oakland last season ... Cleveland left 11 men on base and went just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position, while Oakland stranded nine and was 2-for-8 with RISP ... Scott Kazmir takes the mound for Oakland on Tuesday, while Corey Kluber will pitch for Cleveland.