Indians 2, Orioles 1
Tribe improves to 27-28
For a long while today felt like one of those games the Indians were going to lose because they failed to take advantage of so many opportunities.
Jason Kipnis singled the lead off the Tribe half of the 1st, but was erased by a double play. The Indians loaded the bases with one out in the 2nd, but failed to push any runs across. Kipnis and Carlos Santana both walked to begin the 3rd, but a line drive off the bat of Michael Brantley turned into a double play. Brandon Moss walked (Ubaldo Jimenez walking a bunch was not a new experience by the crowd at Progressive Field, but being happy about the walks probably took some getting used to.), and Nick Swisher singled in a run, which was nice, but two men were still left on base. Two more were stranded in the 4th and then another pair in the 5th. Jimenez was finished at that point, having allowed 12 base runners, but only one run.
Danny Salazar gave up a solo home run to Manny Machado in the 3rd, but allowed only two base runners over the next four inning. He finished the afternoon with 7+ innings pitched, having allowed only the one run. More impressively, he recorded 10 strikeouts while issuing only one free pass. This was the 12th time an Indians pitcher has reached double figures for strikeouts in a game, twice as many times as any other MLB team, and four more times than the rest of the American League Central combined.
Salazar has the highest strikeout rate in the league, and he lowered his ERA to 3.50 today. After the offense eventually pushed another run across, and Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen each pitched a scoreless frame, Salazar found himself with a 6-1 record. If he continues to pitch well for the rest of this month, he could find himself named to the All-Star team.
Getting back to the offense pushing across that other run, it happened in the 6th. With two outs Kipnis walked (giving him four times on base, as his tremendous play has continued beyond May), and then Santana smacked his 9th double of the season and Kipnis came all the way around to put the Indians ahead.
The game's final play was one you don't see every day. Cody Allen had walked Chris Davis with one out in the 9th, but recovered to strike out Matt Wieters on a pitch in the dirt. Davis, apparently not having read the book on Yan Gomes, decided to take off for second base, and was promptly nailed, ending the game.
Sunday's rubber match will feature Carlos Carrasco facing off against Baltimore's Bud Norris. It'll be the Tribe's third chance this week to get back to .500, somewhere they haven't been since they were 2-2. The Twins and Royals both lose today, which means the Indians are only 5 games out of 1st place, the closest they've been in more than six weeks.
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