If you believe in Bill James’ Game Score – and I happen to be quite fond of it – then you’ll have to take note that lightning bolt-throwing right-hander Danny Salazar was as dominant on Friday night as other moment in his big league career; his Game Score, according to Baseball Reference, stands at an impressive 81, ,narrowly edging out his career high 82 which he tossed on May 10 against Minnesota.
Despite that, however, it was an atypical game by the sometime enigmatic hurler: he fanned just four Oakland hitters, tying the second lowest mark for his season, and failed to surrender at least one homerun, something he’s done in just five of 19 starts this season.
Oakland got to the young Dominican in the bottom of the third inning by way of a lead-off walk to Mark Canha, Salazar’s lone free pass of the night. The pesky, bespectacled Eric Sogard followed that up with a base knock to right field. And the normally sure-handed Giovanny Urshela, who’s become somewhat of a defensive revelation for the Tribe since his mid-season call-up, committed an error that plated Canha. Salazar was able to work out of the inning without allowing another run, getting Billy Burns on strikes, Brett Lawrie on a fielder’s choice, and Josh Reddick on a fly out.
Then in the top of the seventh – and in the midst of a solid, shutdown effort by A’s right-hander Kendall Graveman – shortstop Marcus Semien, who often forgets to bring his glove out to the field, returned the favor by matching Urshela’s error and allowing Yan Gomes to score.
And something happened in the top of the ninth inning, something that hearkened back to the days of yore – or at least to my childhood in the mid 90s: the Indians put together an impressive, eventual game-winning top of the inning.
The recently re-promoted Lonnie Chisenhall opened the frame with a single and eventual stole second base as a high and slightly off center throw by Stephen Voight allowed him to slide in safely. Urshela would eventually punch out, but Michael Bourn – or often light-hitting Michael Bourn – roped an absolute laser over the head of Burns in center to plate the winning run. Cody Allen would pitch the bottom of the inning – he got three straight groundball outs to second – for his 21st save.
The Tribe takes on the A’s again tonight, as the struggling Cody Anderson faces off against the newly-acquired Aaron Brooks.