Game 120: Reds 8, Indians 3
Tribe falls to 57-57
My question before the game was whether Danny Salazar's predilection for giving up home runs or Cincinnati's predilection for not hitting anything would win out. The answer, unfortunately, was Salazar.
Going into today's game, Danny Salazar had given up 15 home runs in 110.2 career innings. Tonight he gave up two homers in just four innings of work, continuing a disturbing trend from the back half of the Cleveland rotation. Beyond Corey Kluber and perhaps Trevor Bauer, the Tribe starting staff has been a major liability, and it's gotten to the point where Carlos Carrasco is going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the rotation again this weekend.
Who were the sluggers that took Salazar deep?
Zack Cozart 401 PA, .221/.272/.288 (58 OPS+)
Kristopher Negron 37 PA, .229/.270/.429 (93 OPS+)
The big blow came on Cozart's blast. With two outs in the second inning, Salazar pitched to Cozart with the pitcher on deck, giving the Cincinnati shortstop a hanging offspeed pitch. That sped up Cozart's bat, and he lined a ball off the left field foul pole to give the Reds a 3-0 lead. I suppose it needs to be mentioned that the batter before hit a ball that was ruled a base hit but Jose Ramirez should have turned into an out.
The Reds scored two more when Kris Negron hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, again with two outs. Salazar would retire the next batter, but he'd be done for the night because his spot came up in the top of the fifth inning. That meant the Tribe bullpen would for the second straight night shoulder a heavy innings load. Because Terry Francona couldn't mix and match his relievers, Scrabble would face Todd Frazier, a right-handed hitter, with runners on first and second in the seventh. And sure enough, Frazier would hit a double that ended any hopes of a Tribe comeback.
The Indians scored all three of their runs in the eighth, after the proverbial horse was out of the barn. Yan Gomes, who is quietly having an excellent season, hit a solo home run (his 16th on the year) off Mat Latos to lead off the eighth. Pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn would chase Latos with a two-run double later in the inning. But again, that crooked number came way too late to make any difference in the game.
The Reds have hung around in the NL Central without much of an offense (tonight and last night notwithstanding) because they have an excellent starting rotation and bullpen. The Indians are hanging around in the AL Central with basically 1.5 starters and a very good bullpen. It seems like they'll be stuck at or perhaps a below .500 if they can't figure out the back end of the rotation.
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