When Danny Salazar burst onto the scene as a young phenom in 2013, he threw pure heat and challenged hitters to try to catch up to his fastball pitch after pitch, yielding many walks, and building up high pitch counts early on in games. Fast forward to 2015 and now, before our very eyes–and much to the delight of the Indians organization–Salazar has officially converted himself into an increasingly elite pitcher, showing off an eclectic arsenal of pitches, excellent control, and pure poise as he carves hitters up and works deeper and deeper into ballgames.
Salazar’s maturity was on full display Monday night, as the young righty dominated Boston and picked up the win, en route to an 8-2 Indians victory. Salazar took the mound in Fenway Park for the first time in his career and stymied a hot Red Sox offense who had scored a whopping 45 runs in their previous 3 games. His line was superb: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 K, 1 BB. Of the 108 pitches he threw, 74 were strikes. Salazar spotted his fastball with great precision throughout the night, and mixed in his overhand curveball, splitter, and straight change. The Beantown batters–who had been scoring runs at will entering the game–didn’t have any answers for the Dominican righty on this night, aside from an early 3rd-inning solo homerun from young first baseman Travis Shaw.
The Tribe lineup would get a big boost with the return of Michael Brantley (2-5, 2B, RBI, R, SB), but the big blows would come from Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall, who each homered to fuel the offense. Brantley, who had sat out the previous three games to nurse a shoulder injury, had a great return to the lineup; Jason Kipnis continues to rest, but is expected to return this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday night’s contest.
KEY STATS AND NOTES:
*As highlighted out in our “Keys to the Game”, the Tribe hitters did a phenomenal job of working the count against Boston starter Matt Barnes, forcing the youngster to throw 102 pitches in just five innings of work, allowing the Indians to get to the Boston bullpen early.
*Abraham Almonte (1-3, R, RBI, BB) continues to swing the bat well and move up in Tito Francona’s lineup, leapfrogging Yan Gomes and hitting 5th in Monday night’s lineup. From clutch homeruns to squeeze bunts, the switch-hitting youngster has impressed.
*Almonte has played solid, errorless ball in center field (9 games) and has been a pleasant surprise as he continues to work his way into the lineup on a nightly basis.
*The hot-hitting Chisenhall (2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R) has seen his batting average jump from .217 to .244 in the past 10 games, as he too continues to find his name in the lineup on a consistent basis.
*Brantley earned his 13th Stolen Base Monday night, against just one caught stealing. Since the start of 2014, Brantley now has 35 SBs and has incredibly been caught only twice.
*Salazar’s last 4 Starts: @OAK: 8 IP 0 ER, @LAA: 6 IP 1 ER, vs. NYY: 7.1 IP 1 ER, @BOS: 7 IP 1 ER
*Over his past 10 starts, Salazar has lowered his ERA from 4.06 to 3.16, propelling his overall record from 6-3 to 11-6.
Trevor Bauer (9-9, 4.35) faces Eduardo Rodriguez (6-5, 4.83) at 7:10pm Tuesday night in Fenway Park.