Though you might not have noticed with all the Cavs hooplah surrounding the Cleveland sports scene (and with good reason), the city’s baseball team has also been playing (and winning) games recently. Tonight was another night that put the Indians on the Cleveland backburner, so to speak, as many fans were crowded in and around Quicken Loans Arena to watch the Cavs take on the Atlanta Hawks (in Atlanta!).
But the Indians had an important game to play, and if you did watch it, you were treated to an absolutely beautiful game from Danny Salazar and the offense in general. Today marked the first time the Tribe squared off against the World Series Champion Royals (note: I literally shuddered a little bit writing that out.), and so it goes without saying that the team wanted to play their rivals tough and wanted to come out with a win. I don’t know what it is about the Royals, but they really get under my skin – I guess being jealous of success will do that to a person.
The pitching matchup in this game was interesting as it featured two fireball-throwing young starters who might be among the best pitchers in the game in another season or two. Salazar sometimes struggles with his pitch count and working deep into games, but he seems to have turned a very sharp corner this season, as he entered this game with a 2.45 ERA on the season, and he pushed that all the way down to 1.91 by hurling 7.2 scoreless innings. He was simply magnificent in this one, allowing only four hits and one walk to go with nine strikeouts. To be honest, Salazar did many fans a favor as he allowed them to divert some attention to the Cavs – he was in complete control tonight and at no point did you ever think the Royals might jump back into the game.
His counterpart, Yordano Ventura, was torched early and often in this game. He allowed one run in the first, but it perhaps should have been more as the Indians loaded the bases with only one out. He didn’t fare quite as well in the third inning when the Indians plated four runs, three of which came on a Jose Ramirez double. In all, Ventura worked only four innings, allowed five runs (all earned) and walked five batters to go with three strikeouts. He was delightfully putrid.
Last week felt like a low point in the season, getting swept by Philadelphia, but one week from the start of that series the Indians have reeled off four wins against divisional opponents, and sit in second place behind the Chicago White Sox. The pitching has been pretty good, but the offense has done a great job putting up crooked numbers early in games, which puts opponents on their heels. If the Indians can take two of three from the reigning world champs, they should have every reason to go into a short road trip feeling great about themselves and their chances this season.
Tomorrow Cody Anderson will rejoin the Indians and square off against Ian Kennedy. Based on how the season has gone for Cody, I hope the Indians remember to bring their bats to the park if they hope to