Jays Prevail in Slugfest

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- A five-run first inning was an indicator of what was to come as the Blue Jays defeated the Cleveland Indians 12-9 to improve to 3-1 on the spring. The hitters controlled the afternoon as the two teams combined for twenty-one runs, and twenty-nine hits,

Gabe Gross was the star of the afternoon as he belted his third home run in just four spring training games. Even more impressive is the fact that Gross entered the game batting 2-4 with two home runs and four runs scored. The young outfielder was a September call-up last season and struggled as he batted just .209 in 129 at bats. Gross was expected to return to Triple-A Syracuse to begin the 2005 season, however, if he keeps up this performance this spring it will be hard to make that decision.

``I'm just seeing the ball pretty well,'' Gross said. ``I just don't know how to explain it.''

In his first outing of the spring, Miguel Batista pitched two hitless innings for the Jays walking one and striking out one batter. Batista is expected to be the No. 3 starter for the Jays when the club heads north, and will be expected to put up much better numbers than his first season with the Jays when he went 10-13 with a 4.80 ERA.

``I was really happy with some things,'' Batista said. ``I'm getting the ball to move onto the other side of the plate."

Russ Adams began first inning onslaught with a leadoff triple and scored on a John McDonald RBI single. After an Alexis Rios fly out, Eric Hinske singled to score McDonald, and then Gross followed with his two-run home run to make it 4-0. After John Hattig singled, and reached second on a John-Ford Griffin groundout, Miguel Negron got an RBI single of his own to cap the five-run first.

Raul Tablado went deep in his only at bat of the game, which came in the eight inning facing Indians pitcher Jake Robbins. Alexis Rios went 2-4 with 2 runs batted in, and Julius Matos went 1-2 with one RBI. Ken Huckaby went 1-3 with an RBI and Guillermo Quiroz went 2-2 with two runs scored.

A trio of spring training invites had poor performances in the final innings of the contest. Adrian Burnside allowed three hits and two runs in his inning of work, striking out two batters. Mike Nannini allowed three hits and one run in the seventh inning and Matt Whiteside allowed three hits and two run in the ninth inning.

Vince Perkins, who was brilliant in his first inning of work this spring, worked the eight inning and allowed three hits, three runs while walking a batter and striking out two. Chad Gaudin allowed two hits and a run in his inning of work, as Ryan Glynn was the only pitcher, other than Batista, to not allow a run, as he allowed a hit and struck out a batter in the fifth inning.

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