Indians improve to 14-21
As the old adage goes "the best offense is playing a team that has an even worse defense than your own awful defense" (or something like that). The Indians stuck firmly to those words of wisdom tonight with both teams struggling to field anything and make accurate throws. The quick infield and high winds of Globe Life Park in Arlington made mince meat of both defenses, leading to a high scoring - and almost comical - game of baseball.
Danny Salazar, coming off of his 11-strikeout performance against the Minnesota Twins, did not look sharp from the onset. The Indians' quick start and 3-run first inning was immediately answered by 2 runs from the Rangers. That pretty much remained the story for Salazar until he was eventually knocked out in the 5th frame. The game remained close through those first 4 innings, with every Tribe score being matched in the bottom half of the inning. Salazar's control hasn't been as much of an issue this year as with year's past, but he really struggled to keep balls down in the zone - particularly his breaking balls - in this outing.
All told he finished the game with a mere 4 strikeouts in 4.2 innings along with 9 hits, 5 earned runs, 2 home runs, and a lone walk. It was clear that Francona knew something was up with Salazar from as early as the 4th inning when the bullpen began to warm up despite his pitch count only being in the 50's. It wasn't until the implosive 5th inning that he was actually pulled, however.
The shootout more or less slowed down when the winds were taken out of the Indians' sales in that 5th inning. Elvis Andrus (having got on base thanks to a bloop single to center) stole second, then made his way all the way home when the throw from Roberto Perez hit Andrus and slowly made its way out towards left center field. Other than 1 run in the 7th inning, Tribe bats were silenced until the 9th after that throw.
When the 9th did roll around, Kipnis absolutely killed one to right center with Jose Ramirez on base. Jason knew it was gone the moment it left the bat, and even took a few seconds to stand and admire it. Not only did the homer end up sealing the victory for the Indians, but it also meant that Kipnis made it on base at least 3 times in 7th straight games, which ties an Indians record. He now shares that milestone with Riggs Stephenson, who did the same all the way back in 1924.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game was seeing Jose Ramirez be strangely competent at the plate and on the base paths. Save for one major blunder in the 8th where he overran first base on an errant throw and ended up getting thrown out, he managed to steal 2 bases as well as grab a hit and a walk. Maybe he's finally hearing the footsteps of Fransisco Lindor creeping up behind him and doing everything he can to stave off being replaced? Whatever it is, hopefully it keeps working.
Other than Roberto Perez and his 0-4 performance, every member of the Indians lineup had something to contribute in tonight's win. Even Carlos Santana - who has struggled mightily starting almost exactly when I wrote an article about how good he'd be at the 2-hole (whoops) - contributed with a sacrifice fly. Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall both added to the mayhem with 3 hits, and David Murphy, Brandon Moss, and Michael Bourn contributed 2 hits a piece.
Most importantly, the Indians finally have their first back-to-back wins since early April. With the offense finally clicking, Yan Gomes returning soon, and the pitching staff finding ways to win even when they struggle, it looks as if the Indians are finally on the rebound. All that's left now is to build on a great late-inning win and hope the days of month-long winning streak droughts are far behind us.
Win Expectancy Chart
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|Deep South Ken
|Denver Tribe Fan