Danny Salazar had a shaky Spring Training and came into his Saturday afternoon start with the desire to make a big statement…he did exactly that. The young fireballer was electric, striking out 10 and pitching into the seventh inning while catapulting the Tribe to a 4-2 victory in Minnesota. Cleveland improves to 4-6, while dropping Minnesota to 4-7.
Salazar came out of the gate on fire, recording eight strikeouts in the first three innings. While his fastball consistently hit 95-97 MPH on the radar gun, his slider and changeup were equally effective, allowing him to keep his pitch count down and work deeper into the game. While walking just two, he was dominant and in control throughout the game. The Twins did have several hard-hit balls, including Kurt Suzuki’s homerun to lead off the seventh inning on Salazar’s 105th pitch of the afternoon, which proved to be his last. However, if Danny Salazar continues to mix pitches and change speeds as efficiently as he did today (just like Kluber, Carrasco, and Bauer have also done early on this season) then the Tribe rotation could be very exciting.
Now the offense, that’s a still a different story. While the lineup couldn’t sustain any sort of extended scoring, it did grind out four runs Saturday, as Roberto Perez continues to play well while filling in for Yan Gomes, which is a welcome site for Tito and the Tribe. Perez slammed a mammoth 435-foot dinger (I say it’s actually longer than that!) off a Phil Hughes fastball in in the 3rd inning to give the Tribe a 1-0 lead. The other three runs scored on a Lonnie Chisenhall sacrifice fly, a wild pitch, and a Jason Kipnis single, which broke an 0-16 swoon for the JK Kid.
Still, Roberto Perez had 3 of the 9 Tribe hits today to save the Tribe offense. Bourn continued to struggle at the top of the lineup with an 0 for 4 performance, seeing his average dip to .190. It will remain difficult for the middle of the order to drive in runs if Bourn and Kipnis continue to struggle to get on base at the top of the order. I worry about late-inning scenarios, where opposing managers are already going to their left-handed relievers early and often this season against Bourn, Kipnis, and Moss.
Tribe Trio vs. Lefties in 2015…OUCH
Michael Bourn: 3 for 21 (.143) Jason Kipnis: 2 for 21 (.095) Brandon Moss: 1 for 9 (.111)
However, Danny Salazar was huge today and the Tribe offense put four runs on the board to seal a big win. Cody Allen was nasty in the 9th inning and struck out the side, while mixing in a walk. Allen’s slider was filthy and it was good to see him get back on track after the rough outing against Detroit last weekend. He is now 3 for 3 in save opportunities on the season.
Speaking of getting back on track, TJ House will look to rebound from a tough season debut and help the Wahoos to try to take 2 of 3 against Minnesota in the series finale, Sunday afternoon at 2:10pm. Sunday will be a big game for the Tribe, as they look to win this series before heading into a week of action on the road against Central Division rivals Chicago and Detroit!