Danny Salazar, where have you been all my life?
That’s what a lot of Tribe fans were wondering on Thursday afternoon as Salazar effortlessly maneuvered his way through the Toronto Blue Jays lineup and to his first career win in his first ever Major League start.
Salazar was spectacular. There is no other way to explain it. He went six strong innings allowing only one run on two hits and a walk. His seven strikeouts were the most in a major league debut for an Indians pitcher since Luis Tiant struck out 11 all the way back in 1964. As the star of the show, Salazar had his plus fastball on full display, regularly hitting 98 to 99 mph and blowing batters away. Even more impressive was his change up which enable him to keep hitters off balanced all afternoon long. He was so good that he actually carried a no-hitter until the sixth inning.
The Indians offense jumped out to an early lead off of Jays starter R.A. Dickey. In the bottom of the first, Asdrubal Cabrera sent an 0-2 offering from Dickey around the right field foul pole for a 1-0 lead. The home run was Cabrera’s 7th on the year and his as well as his 32nd RBI. For a while it was looking as if that one run would be all Salazar would need.
However, in the top of the sixth, Josh Thole broke up Salazar’s no hit bid when he singled to left. Following a sacrifice bunt, and a line out from Jose Reyes for the second out of the inning, Jose Bautista delivered an RBI double down the line in left. Thole came around to score and tie the game up 1-1. Salazar finished off the inning by getting Edwin Encarnacion to ground out.
The Indans bounced back in the following half-inning and put the decision back into the hands of Salazar. With bases loaded, Lonnie Chisenhall blooped a single bewteen Reyes, center fielders Colby Rasmus and left fielder Rajai Davis. Davis fielded the ball and, for reasons known only to him, tried to throw out Michael Brantley at home for the force out. Unfortunately for the Jays, Davis air mailed the throw to the backstop allowing Ryan Raburn to score from second on the play to out the Tribe up 3-1. In the bottom of the eighth, Carlos Santana tripled to score Drew Stubbs and make it a 4-1 game.
Chris Perez came on in the top of the ninth in an attempt to get his 11th save of the season. While he wound up being successful, it wasn’t the prettiest of saves. After recording the first two outs of the inning on five pitches, Perez proceeded to give up a double to Adam Lind and RBI single to Rasmus. J.P. Arencibia just barely missed hitting the game tying home run before walking. Rajai Davis then proceed to send Michael Brantley all the way back to the wall in left on a fly ball to end the threat and the game.
The Good: Danny Salazar… Danny Salazar… and uhhh, Danny Salazar. He was awesome and may have just made life more difficult for the front office. This was supposed to be a one time only start with Zach McAllister set to make his return after the all-star break, but can they really send Salazar back to Columbus after yesterday’s performance? WE’ll have to wait and see.
The Bad: Chris Perez made the top of the ninth interesting yet again. It looks like he’s back to being in midseason form.
The “Huh?”: Rajai Davis’ decision to throw home in the sixth made absolutely zero sense. He had no chance of getting Brantley and his throw was so unbelievably bad that it allowed Raburn to come all the way around from second to score. We’ll gladly take it, but when it happened, it was totally confusing.