Tribe Explodes for 12 Runs in Rout of AL Central Rivals
On Friday night, the Cleveland Indians broke out of their six-game slide in a big way. They punished their Chi-Town rivals to the tune of a 12-5 home victory, sending the crowd home happy, and with a renewed bit of hope about the Tribe’s offense. Danny Salazar pitched well enough to earn his first win of 2014, Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana both homered, and Yan Gomes and Nick Swisher each contributed an extra-base hit.
Bottom of the First, 0-0
Michael Bourn started the inning off with a weak pop-out, but Mike Aviles followed with a single and a steal. Nick Swisher joined him on the basepaths with a walk. Then Carlos Santana continued his slump-busting tear by ripping a 3-1 pitch down the left field line, plating Mike Aviles for the Tribe’s first run of the evening. Renowned Sox-Killer Ryan Raburn decided that wasn’t enough, and slapped the second pitch he saw to right field to drive in Swisher and Santana. Michael Brantley stepped up and delivered the Tribe’s third straight hit with a single to left field. Sox pitcher John Danks then walked Asdrubal Cabrera to end an 8-pitch at-bat and load the bases for Yan Gomes. The Brazilian Chin God fell behind in the count 0-2 before golfing a mistake pitch just inside the right field line for a double, pushing Raburn and Brantley across the dish. Elliot Johnson then struck out swinging, and Michael Bourn popped out for the second time in the inning. Overall the Tribe scored 5 runs in the first inning, after having scored 1 first-inning run in their previous fourteen games. It was the second time this year they had put a 5-spot on the board.
Top of the Fourth, Indians Lead 7-3
Danny Salazar started the inning by giving up back-to-back singles to Alexei Ramirez and Alejandro de Aza. Then, when it looked like he might catch a break on a grounder from Marcus Semien, Elliot Butterfingers Johnson botched his second potential double-play ball of the game, allowing Semien to reach safely and load the bases with nobody out. But Salazar showed some major growth and composure. After falling behind Adrian Nieto 3-0, he came back with three straight aggressive pitches to take Nieto down swinging. Then Salazar got ahead of Adam Eaton 1-2 before getting him to hit a weak ground ball up the middle. This time, Asdrubal Cabrera took the ball himself, stepped on second and threw to Swisher at first for the double-play.
Carlos Santana continued to burst loudly from his slump by going 2-for-4 with a walk, with his fourth double and fourth homer for six total bases on the day. Brantley also began to snap his own slump with a 3-for-5 performance, including his team-leading fifth homer as part of his 3 RBIs. And though a first look at the numbers for Danny Salazar aren’t impressive, it’s important to note that all three runs scored against him in the second inning were the result of Elliot Johnson’s error and a passed ball by Yan Gomes. It’s very likely that if he’d had solid defense behind him, he’d have given up only the fifth-inning homer to Jose Abreu and been able to pitch at least another inning. Elliot Johnson’s second error also drove up Salazar’s pitch count a bit. Additionally, the bullpen had another solid performance aside from a wild pitch by Brian Shaw. The Drew Stubbs for Josh Outman trade is looking really good for the Indians right now, and that’s not a knock on how Drew Stubbs is performing for the Rockies. It’s a testament to how Outman has pitched. Just check out his 1.93 ERA.
Elliot Johnson botched 2 easy double-play balls, paving the way for a three-run second inning and nearly letting the fourth get out of control as well. The Indians lead the American League with 28 errors, and they need to clean up their play because it’s cost them more than one ballgame. I’m a fan of Elliot Johnson’s positive attitude and friendly personality as much as the next guy, but if our so-called veteran utilityman is barely hitting .100 and making multiple fielding errors, maybe it’s worth evaluating whether he deserves to remain on the squad once Jason Kipnis comes back.
-The Indians hadn’t scored a first-inning run at Progressive Field all year. On Friday they scored 5.
-The Indians scored nearly as many runs on Friday (12) as they did in their entire last road trip (13).
-Mark Rzepczynski, Scott Downs and Matt Lindstrom all threw more balls than strikes.
-Cody Allen needed only 7 pitches to get through the ninth inning. Six of them were for strikes.
-Since enduring a horrendous stretch during which he went 4-for-60, Carlos Santana has 6 hits in his past four games, four of them for extra bases. His batting line over those four games is .400/.471/1.067, good for a 1.538 OPS. In that span he has three homers and a double.
-Nearly half of Yan Gomes’ extra-base hits have come on pitches that were below the strike zone.