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Big hits, newcomer Reyes lift Indians

Big hits, newcomer Reyes lift Indians

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TORONTO -- No one was happier with Anthony Reyes' trade from the Cardinals to the Indians last month than Reyes himself.

"I felt I didn't fit in [with the Cards]," Reyes said. "It was hard trying to make people happy there. It made for some long years."

Not much remains of this year, but Reyes intends to make the most of it with his new organization. He took the first big step toward doing so Friday night, guiding the Indians to an easy 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game set at Rogers Centre.

Manager Eric Wedge said he was excited to get his first look at Reyes, who joined the Tribe in the July 26 trade that sent Minor League reliever Luis Perdomo to the Cardinals and made a pair of starts at Triple-A Buffalo before Friday's promotion.

Now that Reyes turned in 6 1/3 innings in which he allowed just one run on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts, Wedge has reason to be excited to see him again.

"You look at somebody who comes up here for the first time," Wedge said, "and take it a step further in that he's coming from another organization, and he handled it well."

Reyes' time with the Cards didn't go all that well. He was St. Louis' top prospect at one time, and he fulfilled some of that promise when he won Game 1 of the 2006 World Series.

But his time there will basically be remembered for the 5.38 ERA he compiled in 53 big league appearances, including 38 starts, and the sour relationship he reportedly formed with the Cardinals' coaches.

The 26-year-old Reyes hasn't had such trouble in his new digs.

"It was great working with [Triple-A pitching coach Scott] Radinsky," said Reyes, who went 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in Buffalo. "And the pitching coach here [Carl Willis] is nice. I see a lot of positives to it. There's more communication here."

Communication was key for Reyes and catcher Kelly Shoppach before this game. Because they had never worked together, they had to have extended talks pregame about what to expect from each other.

"It was all about Anthony talking to Kelly," Wedge said, "and Kelly listening and working off that."

Reyes worked himself into a two-out jam in the fourth, after the Indians had afforded him a 3-0 lead. He gave up consecutive singles to Rod Barajas, Adam Lind and Matt Stairs with two out to let one run in, and he plunked Scott Rolen with a pitch to load the bases. But Reyes got out of it by getting John McDonald to fly out to center.

"I tried to collect myself there," Reyes said. "I tried to throw strikes and not let that get to me."

The Indians' bats got to Jays starter David Purcey with a two-out flourish in the top of the fourth. With Shoppach aboard from a double, Ben Francisco doubled to left to bring in one run, Shin-Soo Choo ripped a double off the right-field wall to bring in another, and Franklin Gutierrez singled to bring home a third.

The rally ended when Gutierrez was thrown out trying to advance to second, but the Indians had been pesky enough to put up that 3-0 lead.

And when Reyes protected the bulk of that lead by avoiding disaster in the bottom of the inning, Cleveland never looked back.

Reyes worked his way into the seventh, never finding serious trouble again.

"He pitched a good ballgame," Wedge said. "He was under control and had a good heartbeat."

Wedge's heart had to be beating fast in the ninth. The Indians had added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth -- again, on two-out hits from Francisco and Choo -- and left-hander Rafael Perez had given one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning.

The resulting 5-2 lead dictated a save situation going into the bottom of the ninth, which has not exactly been an Indians specialty this season and wasn't, particularly, in their last game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

But Wedge took a new approach, sending right-hander Jensen Lewis out for his first save opportunity. And though Lewis walked John McDonald to open the inning, he settled down to retire the next three Jays in order, getting Alex Rios looking at strike three to end the ballgame.

"We put ourselves in a position to give him the opportunity," Wedge said of Lewis, "and he took advantage of it."

Reyes also has an opportunity here. One of many areas the Indians are trying to get a read on for 2009 is the starting rotation, and a strong finish to '08 could certainly help Reyes hone in on one of those spots.

This was but a single start, but Reyes made a nice first impression.

"It's exciting to start somewhere fresh," he said. "I'm excited to come in here with a chance to compete."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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