The Cleveland Indians will begin the 2012 campaign at home Thursday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In a battle of pitchers coming off career years, the Indians' Justin Masterson will take the hill against the Ricky Romero.
Masterson started 33 games a year ago and compiled a 12-10 record. The 27-year-old had a 3.21 ERA with 158 strikeouts in 216 innings.
He began the season on a complete tear, giving up just 11 earned runs in his first seven starts and going 5-0 through May 6. Things dropped off from there, as Masterson wouldn't record win No. 6 until July 1, pulling even at 6-6.
Romero, also 27, was somewhat the opposite. He started the season 1-3 but got on a roll in the summer. He won five straight starts in July and August and finished with a 15-11 record.
Cleveland led the AL Central through 95 games last season, fueled by an improbably 30-15 start that put them seven games ahead of the eventual division champion Detroit Tigers. The Tribe faltered down the stretch, however, and wound up 15 games back.
The Tigers are the prohibitive favorites again this season, which makes a 2011-esque start that much more important.
Grady Sizemore, who missed all of spring training after February back surgery, will begin the season on the 60-day DL.
If your'e going to the game, the Weather Channel is predicting a high of 49 degrees. So it will be chilly even with the 3:05 ET first pitch.
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