That, of course, was the pitching line for Indians starter Danny Salazar in last night’s game against the White Sox. You can watch baseball for the rest of your life, and you’re likely never to see a line like that one again. Salazar became the first pitcher since at least 1900 to strike out ten batters in less than four innings, and the Indians fell to the Sox, 7-3.
The game started out well for the Tribe, as Sox pitcher John Danks had some control issues of his own. Asdrubal Cabrera led off the game with a double. Nick Swisher walked, and Jason Kipnis’s single, with some help with an error by Sox leftfielder Alejandro De Aza, scored Cabrera. Swisher later advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Ryan Raburn’s sacrifice fly.
Salazar struck out the side in the first, taking 20 pitches to do so. He began the second inning by giving up a monstrous homer to dead center by Jose Abreu, then struck out the next three batters. Cabrera got the run back with a homer of his own, his first of the season, to lead off the third, giving the Indians a short-lived 3-1 lead. It was all the scoring the Indians would do for the rest of the game.
Salazar then gave up a home run to Alexei Ramirez. A single, a wild pitch, and another single plated another run for the Sox, tying the score at 3-3. And while Danks eventually found his control, going six innings for the win, Salazar continued to struggle, giving up a single, a walk, and a double in the fourth inning. He left the game with two out in the fourth and the Sox ahead, 5-3.
I’m sure Tito Francona wasn’t happy to go to the bullpen in the fourth inning, but that’s what he had to do. Salazar had thrown 93 pitches and it was time for him to go. Josh Outman and Blake Wood each allowed a run, while Chen-Chang Lee and Scott Atchison pitched effectively.
I watched the first half of the game on television in the company of my friend Wyatt. Of course, neither one of us had ever seen a start like the one Salazar had. We agreed that by 2016, Salazar will have won at least one Cy Young award, or will be out of baseball entirely. Clearly a pitcher who can strike out ten batters in less than four innings has some great ability, and unlimited potential. But equally clearly, he has got to learn to rely less on his fastball and to stop hanging sliders and changeups in the middle of the plate.
All told, not a good way at all to begin a four-game series in the park of a division rival. It’s hard to win a four-game series, and now the Indians will need to win each of the next three games in order to make that happen. If they get out of town with a split, that will have to do. And although the Tribe beat him like a big bass drum last season,
Cy Young winner two-time All-Star Chris Sale takes the hill today. Good luck, gents.
- Cabrera leading off the game with a double, then homering in the third. The Indians are a MUCH better team when Cabrera hits well, and he did his part to try to keep the Tribe in the game.
- Raburn went 2 for 3 with a sacrifice fly. We learned last year that Raburn can be a very effective player when used selectively, and so far Francona seems to have been picking the right times to put him in the lineup.
- Five Indians, including Swisher, DH Carlos Santana, and the bottom third of the lineup, all went hitless.
- Two double plays early in the game, when Danks was still struggling, kept the Indians from piling on, which might have made things easier for Salazar.
The “Did I really see that? Did that really happen?”
- 3.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO, 2 HR. Seriously. Look at that line. You may not see another like it for the next 114 years.