Tribe improve to 71-66
After a massive blowout loss on Monday and a crushing 9th-inning defeat on Tuesday, I'd have settled for any game that didn't leave me feeling ill. The Indians badly needed a win, and Danny Salazar made damn certain they got one, pitching the best game of his young MLB career.
After Salazar gave up a pair of singles in the top of the 1st, but avoided any damage, Carlos Santana got the Indians on the board with a two-run shot off Justin Verlander into the right-field seats. It was Santana's 24th home run of the season, which is the most by anyone on the team since 2011, when the Indians were led by 27 long balls from... Carlos Santana.
With the Tribe still ahead 2-0 in the 4th inning, Salazar got into some trouble (with a little help from bad defense in right field, something this team knows far too much about), as runners reached second and third with only one out. Salazar struck the next man out, then got an easy grounder to end the inning, and only three men would reach base the rest of the night for Detroit.
In the bottom of that inning the Indians added to their lead with an RBI doubled by Lonnie Chisenhall, followed by an RBI single from Yan Gomes. They added to the lead again in the 7th, when Gomes led off with a double and later scored on a single by Michael Bourn, who scored on a double by Jose Ramirez, who scored on a single by Michael Brantley, making it a 7-0 game.
Salazar was given the chance to go 8 innings for the first time in his career, and he got through that frame so easily, he was sent back out for the 9th. Showing no signs of tiring, after a man reached base with one out, Salazar struck J.D. Martinez out for the fourth time of the night, then struck out Nick Castellanos for the second time, ending the game.
Salazar's first 8-inning start turned into his first 9-inning start, and a shutout at that. Add another 9 strikeouts to Salazar's tally for the season, and making it even sweeter: He didn't walk a single batter. As commenter Emily 522 pointed out in the game thread, this was the first time an Indians pitcher shut out the Tigers since Jaret Wright back in June of 1998!
Corey Kluber has become a legit MLB ace this season, but for much of the season the other starters were a mess. In the last few weeks though, Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco have all looked great, giving Tribe fans the opportunity to daydream about a great rotation of 20-somethings. Who knows what will or won't become of that, on this night though, the sky seems like the limit.
Win Expectancy Chart:
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