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Wood ready for more save chances

Wood ready for more save chances

NEW YORK -- To ensure construction was complete, the Yankees had to wait until Thursday's game -- their 10th game of the season -- to unveil their $1.5 billion stadium.

The Indians didn't have quite the same excuse when it came to unveiling their $10 million closer, Kerry Wood. The Tribe's sluggish start to the season dictated that Wood didn't have a save opportunity until the campaign's ninth game.

Wood got his first taste of life as a closer with the Cubs last year, and he saw that such long waits are bound to happen from time to time.

"That's one thing I did learn in the short time I've been doing it," Wood said. "[Save situations] come in bunches, and you go through stretches where you don't get a chance for 10 days or 12 days. That's how it goes."

Wood, who pitched a perfect ninth to notch his first save as a member of the Tribe in Kansas City on Wednesday, will be looking for another chance Friday, when the Indians continue their four-game series with the Yanks. In spoiling the opening of Yankee Stadium on Thursday, the Indians initiated their first win streak of the season, and they hope to keep it going in Friday's matinee.

"We're trying to win a few in a row here and hopefully win a series," Wood said.

Though Wood's services weren't necessary in Thursday's blowout victory, any prolonged winning streak would no doubt have to include his ninth-inning contributions. And while the 31-year-old Wood is still relatively new to relief work, he said he's learned how to stay fresh and be ready to make those contributions, regardless of rust.

"No matter how much or how little work you get, you've got to be ready to go when the phone rings and it's your turn to pitch," he said. "I try to stay even-keel down there."

Wood has been around the game long enough to see how different closers have different pregame routines.

"Really it comes down to what's best for you," he said. "You have a routine from breakfast on or from lunch on. You have to have the same preparations for when you go out for BP and when you go out for the game. Relievers have their everyday routines just like position players do. You have a chance to get in there every day, so that routine gets your body going and helps you get your work in."

The Indians' work in the early going has been of the early variety. The club has had more day games (seven) than night games (three) thus far, and that trend will continue with three day games this weekend.

"Just a few more of these," Wood said with a smile, "and then it's back to normal."

And all Wood can hope is that ninth-inning save situations soon become his norm.

Pitching matchup
CLE: RHP Anthony Reyes (1-0, 6.00 ERA)
Reyes' final line against the Blue Jays on Sunday wasn't truly indicative of how well he pitched. He went six innings, allowing four runs on three hits with three walks, two strikeouts and two wild pitches. Most importantly, he became the first Tribe starter this season to last longer than five innings and the first to earn a victory. He had good command of his fastball and generally worked ahead. Reyes has never faced the Yankees.

NYY: RHP Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
Chamberlain's first start of 2009 showcased plenty of reasons why the Yankees would want him in their rotation, as he hurled six solid frames in a no-decision on Sunday at Kansas City. Beginning the year as the Yankees' fifth starter, Chamberlain allowed three runs -- one earned -- on four hits, walking one and striking out five. He hit two batters and served up a third-inning home run to John Buck in the 88-pitch outing, but Chamberlain was ultimately pleased with his improving command and efficiency. He will be making his first career start vs. Cleveland, though he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five regular-season relief appearances against them. And then, of course, there's the 2007 American League Division Series "midge" game, when Chamberlain allowed the tying run in New York's Game 2 loss.

Tidbits
Manager Eric Wedge is now one victory shy of 500 in his career. Lou Boudreau (728), Mike Hargrove (617), Tris Speaker (617) and Al Lopez (570) are the only other Tribe managers to achieve this feat. ... Ben Francisco scored the first run in the new Yankee Stadium when Kelly Shoppach knocked him in with an RBI double in the fourth inning Thursday. ... Grady Sizemore hit the ballpark's first grand slam -- a blast to right field off Damaso Marte in the seventh. ... Cleveland Indians Charities will host the 2009 Boys of Summer Benefit, presented by Continental Airlines, in Heritage Park on Thursday, May 28. The entire Indians roster and coaching staff, as well as Tribe alumni, will mingle with fans, and the current players will all sign autographs. For more information, call (216) 420-HITS.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• STO-HD

On radio
• WTAM 1100

Up next
• Saturday: Indians (Fausto Carmona, 0-2, 9.00) at Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 0-2, 28.93), 3:40 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Indians (Carl Pavano, 0-2, 16.71) at Yankees (A.J. Burnett, 2-0, 2.70), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

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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