Salazar tosses complete game shutout; Tribe blanks Detroit, 7-0
Indians offense finally erupts to score seven against Tigers starter Verlander
CLEVELAND--Six weeks ago Danny Salazar was wearing a Columbus Clippers uniform, pitching in Triple-A after a disappointing first two months of the season in the big leagues.
He’s since returned to the majors and hasn’t missed a beat.
Wednesday night against Detroit proved to be the right-hander’s best start yet, hurling his first complete game shutout to help the Indians blank their division rivals, 7-0.
“He sure answered the bell,” manager Terry Francona said. “He really dialed it up. I thought it was good for him he could prove to himself he could stay out there, and he held his velocity the entire game.”
Tossing nine scoreless innings, Salazar (6-6, 3.80 ERA) scattered eight Tigers hits around the diamond without issuing a walk and striking out nine.
“I tried to stay calm and focus on every pitch like I was at the beginning,” he said. “Not trying to overthrow and try to be a little bit smart.”
Since being recalled to Cleveland on July 22, Salazar is now 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA in his last eight starts spanning 47 innings of work.
“When he’s locating his fastball and attacking like he usually was last year, and even a couple times this year, his changeup completely changes him,” Indians catcher Yan Gomes said. “It was coming in at the mid-80s with a filthy drop to it, and he was still pumping his fastball at 97 and 98 MPH in the ninth inning.”
Scoring just three runs and going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position through the first two games of the series, Wednesday couldn’t more different for Gomes the Tribe offense.
Facing Detroit starter Justin Verlander (12-12, 4.80 ERA) for the fourth time this season, Indians hitters roughed up the six-time All-Star for seven runs (six earned) on nine hits over 6 2/3 innings.
“It’s definitely kind of the thing we needed,” Gomes said. “Those close games will get to you. But we stepped it up and hopefully we get the momentum with a game like this against a good pitcher like Verlander.”
Just like Tuesday, Carlos Santana gave the Wahoos two quick runs with a two-run homer off Verlander in the first inning. With 24 long balls on the year, the switch-hitting first baseman is three shy of tying his career-high of 27 he hit back in 2011.
“I thought they had really good energy coming out,” Francona said. “We got on the board again like last night and then we added on which was huge. It’s good against that lineup.”
That they did, scoring two more runs in the fourth inning first on a Lonnie Chisenhall RBI double down the right field line, before Gomes drove him home with an RBI bloop base-hit.
The team erupted for three more in the seventh, sending Verlander to the showers after his worst start since June 16. Gomes led the charge again with a leadoff double off the Tigers right-hander before the Tribe collected three straight RBI knocks by Michael Bourn, Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley.
For Ramirez, the 21-year-old shortstop continues to impress at the plate going 3-for-4 in the ballgame with an RBI. Since being called back up to the majors on July 23, the switch-hitting infielder has hit .297 (35-for-118) with six doubles, one triple, one home run, nine RBI and six stolen bases.
“He’s playing with confidence,” Francona said. “When he first came back he wasn’t getting his getting his legs under him a little at the plate. Now he’s starting to feel better and relax.”
Struggling to push runs across of late, it was just the fourth time over the last 13 games the Tribe scored at least four runs.
“We took advantage of the big innings and we came up with some pretty key hits with two outs,” Gomes said.
The outburst of runs was plenty enough for Salazar, who gave the Indians pitching staff yet another brilliant outing. Since August 9, the rotation has posted a 1.92 ERA, walking 34 while striking out 141 over their last 131 1/3 innings.
“These guys have been definitely stepping it up and I think it’s the hitters turn a little bit to step it up more,” Gomes said. “A big game like this could have a big effect on us.”
Cleveland (71-66) pick up a game on Motown in the race for October, now sitting four games behind them for the second wild card seed in the American League.
“Right now this month, we need to win as many games as we can,” Salazar said. “We’re going to keep playing hard.”
Up next for Indians: The Tribe looks to make it two in a row in the series finale with Detroit on Thursday. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (5-7, 3.99 ERA) takes the hill opposite of 2013 American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer (15-5, 3.26 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
This current staff of hurlers is comprised of five young men who have not yet had a full season in a major league starting rotation under their belt due to youth, injury, inconsistency, etc. On top of that, you take Justin Masterson out of the equation at the trade deadline, a guy who was the staple and leader of this staff a year ago.
Again, these pitchers individually deserve all the credit in the world, but to pull this staff of youngsters together, even with the recent struggles of Kluber, is something that Callaway should really be proud of.
Regarding JRam, I have watched the Tigers telecast this series and their analyst really likes him. More than once they sounded surprised by how good he was, especially about his arm, movements and range at SS. He stressed several times that JRam's only 21yo too. Always nice to hear such compliments from a rival.
If the Indians thought about showcasing him for an offseason trade, then I hope that his play has erased that plan. Start him at SS next season and make Lindor earn the job.
Ramirez is looking like he will be the starting SS on opening day next year. But when Lindor is called up in May-June, it is going to be interesting to see what happens. If Kipnis is still locked in at 2B and Lindor plays well, then Ramirez will become a super utility guy potentially filling in all over.
As for House, I have always been a fan of his. I do think there is some upside for him to be a solid 3-4 type starter. He has the stamina to haul innings and is pretty consistent from outing to outing. He probably won't ever have dominate peripherals, but he knows how to pitch and use his stuff. He's the perfect fifth starter for this team right now if you ask me as he complements the Fearsome Foursome of power right-handers well.
What concerns me is how they handle Jose Ramirez. With Lindor most likely taking over SS next year I have this feeling the FO wants Ramirez to be a utilty infielder . Ramirez is a huge upgrade over Kipnis defensively on a defensive challenged team. Even if Kipnis recovers and hits like he has in the past no way do I put him over a slick fielding switch hitting speed guy with small skills like JRam. I would look to deal Kipnis. I just can't see the Tribe putting out three rookies out there next year in the infield with Urshela-Lindor and Ramirez.. I would becaus of my lust for young talent and allthree of these kids have gold glove potential!
Tony, What are your thoughts on House? Is his upside as a fifth starter with the poor peripherals he is posting now or maybe he has more to offer?
1. Who in the farm system would be the next candidate to emerge like House? I ask that assuming there is no one in the system with the potential of Salazar.
2. I do not see anyway that J Ram does not have a starting position in next years line up. The extra special ingredient he brings is speed on the bases.
Of course, all of that gets thrown out the window with an injury or two. So pray for health.
Not sure there's enough games left for this new rotation to chase down a playoff spot.I sure hope they can. If not I am very excited to see how this rotation does in 15.
Only negative tonight is only 12,000 fans came out see this gem by Salazar.
Challenge to Bauer is to out pitch Scherzer tomorrow nite.