Carlos Santana leads the way as Cleveland Indians beat Texas Rangers, 4-3

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Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana, left, catches the throw from starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco to force out Texas Rangers Shin‐Soo Choo on his attempted bunt during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana, left, catches the throw from starting pitcher
Carlos Carrasco to force out Texas Rangers Shin‐Soo Choo on his attempted bunt during the
fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Arlington, Texas.
(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

(AP) – Last year manager Terry Francona went against the grain and put Carlos Santana in the leadoff spot in late April. The move worked out well with an assist from platoon partner Rajai Davis.

This season there is no Davis so it looks like Santana is going to face all comers in the top spot in the lineup. After two games — a small sample size to steal a phrase from Francona — it’s hard to argue with the results.

Tuesday night Santana started the game with a homer off left-hander Martin Perez as the Indians beat Texas, 4-3, at Good Life Park in Arlington. Santana added an RBI single in the second to give him four hits — three for extra bases — in the young season.

The leadoff homer was the sixth of Santana’s career, all of them coming in the last two years. Before the game, Francona told reporters he felt comfortable letting the switch-hitting Santana face lefties and righties. Last year Rajai Davis hit leadoff against lefties, while Santana faced righties.

The Indians made it 3-0 off Perez (0-1) in the second as Austin Jackson and Santana singled home runs. Brandon Guyer started the rally with a one-out single. After Yandy Diaz lined out to center, Yan Gomes walked. Jackson singled through the middle to score Guyer. Santana followed with his second hit in as many at-bats to score Gomes.

It was unclear what the Indians were going to get out of Carlos Carrasco in his first start. He dealt with a sore right elbow in spring training, not to mention the 18 earned runs he allowed in 15 innings. It’s fair to say he exceeded expectations.

Carrasco (1-0, 3.18), except for Joey Gallo’s long two-run homer in the second that made it 3-2 game, pitched well. He struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on one walk and four hits.