In what’s likely to be the defining series this season the Indians continued to struggle against the division-leading Tigers, dropping a tough one in 14 innings on Wednesday night. The loss, which drops the Tribe to six games out of first and 2.5 from one of the Wild Card spots, is the fourth straight against the Tigers.
In one of the organization’s bolder moves, the Indians pushed back veteran Ubaldo Jimenez’s would-be start on Wednesday and opted to go with rookie right-hander Danny Salazar, despite having just one big league game to his resume. And the 23-year-old Dominican did not disappoint.
Simply put, Salazar was sensational. Flashing a plus-plus fastball, good slider, and hard changeup, Salazar dominated the Tigers potent lineup through the first seven innings of the game, striking out nine, walking one and surrendering two earned runs.
After the Tribe regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh — thanks to a Nick Swisher double — manager Terry Francona decided to stay with the hot hand and let Salazar pitch the eighth inning.
After returning the first two batters, right-fielder Torii Hunter singled to center and reigning Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera followed it up with a deep 427-foot homer.
The Indians would rally at the bottom of the inning, plating Michael Brantley on a Yan Gomes groundout to short. And the game would remain tied until the 14th inning.
Working on this third inning, reliever Bryan Shaw gave up a double to Austin Jackson, who would move to third on a Hunter fly out, and would depart after issuing a walk to light-hitting Hernan Perez.
Newly acquired lefty Marc Rzepczynski would enter the game and immediately give up a two run double to Prince Fielder. Cleveland would rally in the bottom of the inning, scoring Michael Bourn with two out before stranding Mike Aviles on third.
The Tribe looks to avoid the sweep tonight, sending Zach McAllister to the mound against Cy Young contender Max Scherzer.