Padres edge Indians 9-8 in Cactus League finale
Carson parks two homers, but Tribe falls to San Diego late
Player of the Game: Yonder Alonso (1-for-3 with a three-run double)
All good things must come to an end.
After a great spring, the Indians dropped their final Cactus League game Saturday to San Diego, 9-8. Tribe outfielder Matt Carson belted a pair of homers, but the offense could not overcome a shaky outing by Danny Salazar. The right-handed phenom went just four innings yielding five runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out five.
Padres lefty Eric Stults limited the Tribe bats to one run on one hit, giving up a lone home run to Jason Kipnis over his four innings of work. San Diego first baseman Yonder Alonso provided a three-run double before Chase Headley and Seth Smith went yard to ultimately seal the one-run victory.
Salazar struggles in final start
Allowing just one run through his first 5 1/3 innings this spring, Salazar looked his worst since the A.L Wild Card game Saturday. With only 10 1/3 Cactus League innings under his belt, you have to wonder if the 23-year old has racked up enough work to enter the long regular season grind.
Don't buy for one second that there is no innings limit for Salazar this year, because there definitely will be once again. Yes, the Indians moving him along slow and being so careful is good for his future, but aren't they trying to win now? Seriously, when does it end?
Five days from now Salazar will toe the rubber yet again in front of a sold out Progressive Field during the Tribe home opener. Unlike October, let's all hope this time he and the Tribe can give something fans can cheer about this time around.
Carson show stays hot
He didn't make the big league club, but outfielder Matt Carson continues to show he is a great depth option within the organization going forward.
Going 2-for-2 with two home runs and five RBI Saturday, the 32-year old hit .273 with three homers and 10 RBI in 44 Cactus League at-bats. It was Carson that stole the show last September hitting .636 (11-for-20) hightlighted by a game-winning single on September 19.
Whether he's had a limited amount of major league experience or not, it's hard not to root for a guy like Carson who spent seven seasons in the minors before finally making his debut. On a team with very few right-handed hitters, he gives the Tribe a different look at the plate if a player or two struggles on the 25-man roster.
- Late Saturday night, the Indians and catcher Yan Gomes agreed to a six-year, $23 million contract extension. The deal which includes two club options, could keep the Brazilian native in a Tribe uniform through the 2021 season. Whether he's a proven commodity or not, it's a low risk, high reward move for the organization. With Cleveland being a mid-market team, signing younger core players for less guaranteed dollars is a great way to do business and keep the fan base happy. The only question is, will more proven players like Kipnis or Justin Masterson or be next?
- Hoping to bounce back in 2014, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera ended the spring hitting .357 (20-for-56) with a home run and 10 RBI. He finished his last three games red hot going 5-for-9 with five RBI. Playing seven years in Cleveland, Cabrera is a free agent at season's end.
- Minor league catcher Tony Wolters went 2-for-2 Saturday, driving in a run with a RBI single in the eighth inning. At just 21-years old, look for him to be a possible call-up this September when rosters expand.
Cleveland closes the spring with a 20-9-2 record, their best since joining the Cactus League in 2009.
Up next for Indians: After an off day Sunday, the Tribe opens up the 2014 regular season at Oakland Coliseum against the A.L. West champion Athletics Monday at 10:05 p.m. ET. Justin Masterson will make his third consecutive Opening Day start versus A's right-hander Sonny Gray.
The rest of the three game series with Oakland stacks up like this:
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, to be fair to Salazar, the Indians weren't going to win the Wild Card game because they didn't score any runs (Cabrera with maybe the most disappointing at-bat of that game). Salazar wasn't great, but was hardly horrible either; the offense, on the other hand, could be described as horrible and considerably worse than Salazar's pitching last October- the offense was the main reason they lost that game.
Let's hope the offense is more consistent and scores plenty of runs, including on Friday- if so, Salazar should have a solid chance of winning that game. Go Tribe!
SO happy for Tony. I know he had a ton of family come to that game and I think his sister who is alumni at the school or has some sort of connection with the facility really went out of her way to get a ton of tickets. I believe the place only holds like 4-5K people, so it was probably a pretty loud cheering section for him!