CLEVELAND (AP) - From optimism to emptiness in one day.
The Cleveland Indians are off to the start they couldn't afford.
Playing before the smallest home crowd in 18 seasons, they dropped to 0-2 on Saturday following an 8-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, who battered Cleveland's starting pitcher for the second straight day and knocked whatever hope Indians fans carried into 2011.
Only 9,853 fans - the fewest since Progressive Field opened in 1994 - witnessed the Indians losing to the White Sox for the eighth time in nine games.
One of baseball's youngest teams, the Indians were counting on some early-season wins to help win back disheartened fans, who have seen the club trade away stars in recent years. Cleveland finished last in the majors in attendance last season, and unless something changes quickly, the club will have that distinction again.
``It's up to us to come out and play well and get wins and get the fans excited,' said Travis Hafner, who homered. ``We're in a good spot. We've got a lot of young talent. The organization has a chance to be really good for a number of years coming up, including this year.'
Edwin Jackson extended his mastery of the Indians and Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin had two RBIs apiece as the White Sox improved to 2-0 - their best start since 2005, when they won the World Series.
Jackson, who is 8-0 in his last nine starts against Cleveland, allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings. He had one shaky frame, and that wasn't all his fault as two errors on one play by third baseman Brent Morel helped the Indians score two in the second.
Chicago jumped out to a 5-0 lead in two innings against Carlos Carrasco (0-1), who recovered and hung around until the seventh.
Jackson must wish he faced the Indians every time he took the mound. Of the right-hander's 49 career wins, eight have come against Cleveland. He's 4-0 in his seven starts at Progressive Field, and the 27-year-old hasn't lost to the Indians since 2007, when he was with Tampa Bay.
``I have no clue,' Jackson said when asked about his dominance over the Indians. ``I've really never kept up with stats.'
Chicago's bullpen bounced back after a brutal opener, when it gave up six runs in three innings. Chris Sale and Sergio Santos combined for three scoreless innings.
For a second straight day, the Indians faced a big, early deficit.
``We need to put up some zeros early in the game to give our offense a better chance to come back,' manager Manny Acta said. ``We've put ourselves in a hole two straight games and that makes it tough to come back.'
Cleveland's starters have allowed 17 runs and 21 hits in 9 2-3 innings.
``It's only been two games,' Acta said. ``These guys are going to be fine. I'm not anticipating either one to struggle this way. You can go around the league and find teams whose pitchers have had two bad games. It's way too early. I feel good about my team.
``I'm not going to judge my team on two games,' Acted said.
The Indians closed to 5-3 in the second on Hafner's blast into the right-field bullpen and Hannahan's two-run single, which was set up by Morel's miscues. With a runner at first, he bobbled Buck's grounder and threw the ball into the photographer's pit.
Jackson settled down after that, allowing just two hits over the next four innings.
Juan Pierre's RBI single made it 6-3 in the sixth, and Quentin doubled home two insurance runs in the seventh off reliever Chad Durbin.
Carrasco was named the No. 2 starter after a strong spring. The right-hander allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings, the second bad outing by a Cleveland starter after ace Fausto Carmona was battered for 10 runs in three innings on Friday.
NOTES: The previous smallest crowd was 10,071 on April 14 last season against Texas. ... Paul Konerko's 64 career RBIs are the most by a visiting player at Progressive Field. ... The Indians and White Sox both had home runs reviewed on opening day. Acta has no problem with the umpires taking an extra look on TV. ``I'm for it,' Acta said. ``That's just about the only thing I'm for on replays. I think it sometimes becomes a joke because you know the ball went out, but you just want to give the benefit of the doubt to video and not trust your eyesight. It's there, so why not use it.' ... White Sox LHP John Danks will start Sunday despite a tooth infection that required a dentist's visit in Cleveland.
The Associated Press News Service
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