video thumbnail

CLE@CWS: Salazar whiffs 10 in just 3 2/3 innings

CHICAGO -- Alas, all good things must come to an end.

The Indians came into Thursday's game riding a 14-game winning streak against the White Sox dating back to last season, the longest active streak by one team against any opponent. Starter Danny Salazar flip flopped between brilliance and misfortune in his short outing, the latter ultimately leading to his demise and that of the Indians, who fell to the White Sox, 7-3, in the series opener at U.S. Cellular Field.

Salazar ranged from the good -- he struck out 10 batters, which matched a career high and made him the first pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to strike out 10 in less than four innings pitched -- to the bad -- he allowed a pair of home runs -- to the downright ugly: He surrendered five earned runs on six hits and needed 93 pitches to labor through 3 2/3 innings.

"Well, it's an interesting line score. He obviously had really good stuff to have that many strikeouts," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Salazar. "But because there were a lot of swing and miss, and he was also not hitting his spots all the time -- he was up a lot on a [few] pitches -- there were a lot of deep counts and they saw a lot of pitches. And then when he made a mistake, because they had seen so many pitches, they did some damage with him."

The good stuff Francona noted was evident from the onset. Salazar's fastball had plenty of life to it, consistently ranging between 94-96 mph. He struck out the side in the first before making his first big mistake to start the second. Salazar left a 2-2 slider up and over the plate to Jose Abreu, who hammered it to the left-center-field bleachers.

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act continued as Salazar struck out the side following Abreu's solo shot. But he served up another hanging slider, this time to Alexei Ramirez, who struck it to left for a leadoff homer in the third that that cut the Indian's lead to 3-2. It was the theme of the night for Salazar: lots of swings and misses, and lots of pitches left up in the zone, especially breaking balls.

"I was sometimes trying to be too aggressive with it, and it was just leaving that pitch up and I say, 'not too smart,' because I should have figured that out earlier," said Salazar of his breaking ball.

Salazar only recorded one out that wasn't via strikeout, and even that only came when Adam Eaton tried stretching an RBI single to into a double but was thrown out at second by David Murphy in the third inning.

Asdrubal Cabrera, who paced the Indians' offense with a 2-for-4 performance, sparked the Tribe's attack right away. He led off the game with a double off the wall in left and scored when Jason Kipnis' single to left glanced off Alejandro De Aza's glove for an error, then led off the third with a towering drive to center off John Danks that gave the Indians a 3-1 lead.

The Indians did not score following Cabrera's homer.

"They got the lead and he settled in and started kind of adding and subtracting, expanded the plate a little bit and started throwing that changeup, then he'd throw that cutter in on our righties, does what he does," said Francona of Danks. "Early in the game he made a couple of mistakes and we made him pay for it, then he settled in by just adding and subtracting."

The game was tied at 3 going into the fourth before the Sox chased Salazar and took the lead for good. Dayan Viciedo singled with one out and moved to third on catcher Yan Gomes' throwing error following De Aza's walk. Ramirez followed with a two-run double to center over the head of Michael Brantley that put Chicago up 5-3.

Abreu added his second homer of the game in the fifth, a blast to left off Josh Outman. It was Abreu's second two-homer game in three days.

"Me and [Chris Sale] were talking. We want to go thank [general manager] Rick [Hahn] right now for signing him," said Danks of Abreu. "He's fun to watch, and it's scary but he's only going to get better."

Salazar's rough outing broke a string of three consecutive quality starts by Cleveland starters, as the Indians allowed just eight runs in the previous three-game series against San Diego. But he was at least encouraged by the high volume of strikeouts and understands that if he can harness his command, he'll be a force to reckon with.

"I know what I have to work on," Salazar said. "And even in my first start I was struggling with my delivery, and now I know on my offspeed pitches I was trying to be too aggressive with it. I just have to be a little bit less aggressive and keep them down." Comments