As mentioned in yesterday afternoon’s series preview, the Braves were going to be quite the challenge for the Indians. As one of the best teams in baseball, they have very few weaknesses and have an arsenal of weapons. On Monday night the Indians kept those weapons in check, but they were unable to get any offense going against young, talented lefty Alex Wood.
In 5.2 innings of work, Wood allowed only five hits and stuck out five while holding the Indians scoreless. In typical fashion, the Indians were unable to put pressure on a young starter with only a handful of starts under his belt. Wood kept the game under control and never allowed the Indians’ offense to find any type of comfort at the plate.
When Wood handed things over to the bullpen with two outs in the top of the sixth, there appeared to be even less of a chance that the Indians would put together a comeback. The Braves bullpen, the best in all of baseball, did not disappoint. Luis Ayala, Scott Downs, Luis Avilan, and closer Craig Kimbrel combined to slam the door shut on the Indians.
Meanwhile, Danny Salazar pitched well, but once again he was put on a very short leash. This time Salazar made through only four innings and 77 pitches before being lifted from the game. It continues the Indians plan to limit the potential damage that could be done to Salazar’s arm, which has now logged a career high for innings pitched in a season.
Salazar surrendered the only two runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning. With Brian McCann and Joey Terdoslavich at the corners with two out, Elliot Johnson tripled to deep right. Both runs scored on the play to put the Braves up 2-0 in what would prove to be the only runs of the game.
The Indians’ bullpen pitched great once again, this time shutting down the opposition over the course of four innings. Marc Rzepczynski, Matt Albers, and Carlos Carrasco combined to throw four innings and no hits and no walks while striking out four. It was a fantastic performance by a group that appears to be finding their stride, particularly Carrasco who has looked great in all of his relief appearances thus far,
The Good: Danny Salazar pitched well again. Unfortunately he lasted only four innings due to a strictly enforced pitch count. It’s at this point that I’d like to ask the question, what is the point of starting Salazar if he can only last at most five innings? I understand giving Salazar quality experience but he rarely gets into jams and his inability to go deep into games adds stress to an already over stressed bullpen.
The Bad: The offense was terrible last night. They managed to out-hit the Braves 6-3, but they were unable to get a big hit when the needed it or sustain any sort of rally. Hopefully this isn’t the beginning of another prolonged slump.