Tribe now 4-6
This afternoon, behind an excellent 10-strikeout performance by Danny Salazar and three hits from catcher Roberto Perez (including the homer that opened the scoring), the Tribe rebounded in fine fashion from Friday's trials and tribulations.
Salazar came out all guns blazing, quickly hitting 97-98 MPH, and showing good command of his secondary pitches to keep the Twins' hitters constantly off-balance, generating swinging strikeout after swinging strikeout. According to August Fagerstrom, his average fastball was 97.9 MPH, his highest since his second MLB start back in August 2013. Salazar's day was slightly marred when he gave up a homer to start the 7th, after Tito slightly controversially decided to bring him back out for one more hitter (Salazar was on 98 pitches at the time). However, a final line of 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO, 1 HR represents an excellent seasonal debut performance, and cements his spot in the rotation for the forseeable future.
It was the No.8 and No.9 hitters who did most of the damage for the Tribe. Roberto Perez had probably the best hitting day of his short career, going 3/4 and leading the Tribe on the path to victory with a lead-off HR in the top of the 3rd, whereas Jose Ramirez went 2/4 including a double. Both contributed to a two-run inning in the 7th with 1-out singles to set the table. Bourn then lined out, but Jason Kipnis drove home Perez with a welcome RBI single that forced Phil Hughes out of the game with an inauspicious line of 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1 HR.
Naturally, the Twins brought in a lefty to replace Hughes, but on a 2-0 count Caleb Thielbar threw a wild pitch against Michael Brantley that allowed Ramirez to score, putting the Tribe ahead 4-1. Although the Twins did pull one back on Suzuki's 7th inning homer, they weren't able to mount a serious challenge.
The Tribe's only other run was created by some typical Tito-style smallball. With the scores tied at 1-1 in the 4th, Brandon Moss sent one crashing against the boards in RF for a double (narrowly missing a HR). David Murphy then advanced the runner on a groundout and Lonnie Chisenhall executed a perfect sac fly to left field that drove Moss home.
For once, the bullpen had a good night, with Nick Hagadone relieving Salazar in the 7th and going six-up, six-down (one strikeout), and then closer Cody Allen clinching the victory with a three strikeout (and one walk) 9th.
With the Tigers losing 12-3 at home to the White Sox, it was a very good afternoon for Tribe fans. Let's just hope that TJ House is back to form tomorrow...
Win Expectancy Chart
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