Series: Game 1 of 4

Cleveland leads 1-0 (as of 4/8)

Game 1: Monday, April 8
Minnesota 5Final
Cleveland 9
Game 2: Tuesday, April 9
Minnesota 4Final
Cleveland 5
Game 3: Wednesday, April 10
Minnesota 3Final
Cleveland 9
Game 4: Thursday, April 11
Minnesota 4Final
Cleveland 8

Twins 5

(5-2, 5-2 away)

Indians 9

(6-1, 1-0 home)

1:05 PM ET, April 8, 2002

Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio 

123456789 R H E
MIN 202001000 5 13 0
CLE 30420000 - 9 8 0

W: R. Drese (2-0)

L: E. Milton (1-1)

Fryman's grand slam sparks home opener

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The consensus was that the Cleveland Indians had slipped. With all the offseason changes, they wouldn't be nearly as good this year.

Travis Fryman

Travis Fryman's grand slam helped the Indians send a strong message to the Twins.

Travis Fryman's faith was never shaken.

"I was surprised by how many people jumped ship," Fryman said. "I kept looking around the locker room and saying, 'Do they see all the people I still see around here?' We're much better than people ever gave us credit for."

Fryman hit a grand slam, Ellis Burks and Matt Lawton added two-run homers and the Indians won their home opener 9-5 Monday over the Minnesota Twins.

Sporting new uniforms and featuring a lineup radically altered by trades and free agency, the Indians won their fifth straight game and sent an early message to the Twins.

"This was a tone setter," said Lawton, who received several phone calls from his former Minnesota teammates the past few days. "They were really excited. That's all I heard, 'You guys lost Robbie Alomar and Juan Gonzalez and the division is ours now.'

"We showed them we can still play the game."

Cleveland didn't catch Minnesota until after the All-Star break last season but won its sixth Central title in seven years by going 14-5 against the Twins and clinching the division with a 9-1 win over them on Sept. 30 at Jacobs Field.

It figured to be tougher for the Indians to repeat this season, but with a 6-1 record through its first seven games, Cleveland is showing no signs of decline.

"In my opinion," Fryman said. "We're still the best team in the division."

Fryman hit his sixth career slam in the third inning off Eric Milton (1-1), and Lawton connected against his former teammates in the fourth, thrilling a sellout crowd of 42,441.

Milton, who didn't give up more than seven runs in any of his 34 starts last season and shut out the Indians on Sept. 28, was tagged for a career-high nine earned runs and eight hits in four innings.

"I made some mistakes and I made some good pitches, too," Milton said. "They're still a great hitting team."

Rookie Ryan Drese (2-0), who made his season debut last week on 2½ hours notice, allowed four runs and eight hits in five shaky innings. He walked five and struck out five.

The right-hander, who won the No. 5 starter's spot after an impressive spring, was moved up in the rotation when personal problems forced Chuck Finley to miss a start last week.

Ricardo Rincon, Mark Wohlers and David Riske finished up for Cleveland, which wasn't expected to be as strong after trading away Roberto Alomar and not re-signing free agents Juan Gonzalez, Kenny Lofton, Marty Cordova and Dave Burba.

Fryman grew tired of hearing predictions that the Indians would finish back in the Central pack.

"I kept scratching my head," he said. "I was like, 'Am I stupid or missing something?' This is still a very, very good team."

Jacque Jones had four hits for the Twins, who stranded 12 runners.

Fryman's slam put the Indians up 7-4 in the third against Milton, who gave up a walk, double and check-swing infield single to Jim Thome to load the bases.

Fryman, limited to just 98 games last season because of injuries, then drove a 2-0 pitch into the bleachers in left. He already has two homers after hitting just three in 334 at-bats last year.

Lawton, who came to Cleveland from the New York Mets in the Alomar deal, followed a double by Einar Diaz with his second homer to make it 9-4.

As he circled the bases, Lawton stared down Jones in center field. The two close friends playfully teased each other all day.

"There is no better feeling," said Lawton, who spent 10 years in Minnesota's organization. "I had this game circled three months ago."

Minnesota took a 4-3 lead in the third off Drese, who escaped more damage by stabbing Cristian Guzman's comebacker for the third out with runners at second and third.

The Indians needed only six pitches to erase a 2-0 deficit in the first.

Lawton singled and Omar Vizquel hit an RBI triple before Burks drove Milton's first pitch over the wall in left for his first homer to make it 3-2.

"We lost a lot of power," Burks said. "But we're eager to go out there and show people we're still a quality team."

Game notes

Cleveland unveiled its new, white vest tops and blue caps with a script "I," replacing Chief Wahoo. ... The home opener was the Indians' third this season after opening the year in Anaheim and playing in Detroit's home debut last Friday. ... After opening the season with a 10-game road trip, the Twins will finally play their home opener Friday against Detroit. The Metrodome is sold out. ... Finley, who skipped his first start last week after his wife, actress Tawny Kitaen allegedly attacked him, will start Tuesday against Joe Mays. ... Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press