Cleveland Indians 5, Oakland Athletics 1
Even when the Cleveland Indians have looked great this year, it is hard to remember a game that was as well rounded as this one. It was not flawless by any means – especially early on – but the offense, defense and pitching all came together to shut down the Oakland Athletics with authority.
In the first two innings, Danny Salazar did not look great. To his credit, he was working with an awful strike zone laid out by home plate umpire Laz Diaz. He did also work out of a first inning jam by only allowing a single run on a Billy Butler sacrifice fly. Considering Salazar was at one point looking at runners on first and third with only one out, Butler’s moonshot of a sac fly and Ike Davis ending the inning on a strikeout was more than acceptable.
The first inning struggles were also not his fault entirely. Jason Kipnis bobbled a relatively routine force out a second and mishandled a transfer that would have resulted in a double play. Both plays were kicked off by Giovanny Urshela making a great play, which would end up being the narrative for the entire game.
Urshela had some mishaps of his own later on but, for the most part, between him, Lindor and Kipnis we got a good glimpse of this infield’s future going forward.
In big part because of the Tribe’s excellent defense, Salazar was almost able to pitch the entire game from start to finish. Were it not for hitting Billy Butler on the A’s potential last strike of the game, Sal would have had his first complete game of the season. As it was, Cody Allen came in to finish off the game. It’s still Salazar’s longest outing of the season – previously he had not pitched more than 7.2 innings, even in his best games.
Despite the defense and Salazar’s dominate outing, the game was not as much of a blowout as he 5-to-1 score might suggest – at least not the entire game. Through the first five and a half innings, A’s starting pitcher Kevin Graveman shut down the Tribe just as Salazar had done his team.
Urshela’s single and Michael Bourn’s walk were enough to officially knock Graveman out of the game, however, and his replacement did not fare so well. Former Indians first round pick Drew Pomeranz (you know, one of the guys we traded for Ubaldo Jiminez), got rocked. Well, at first, he rocked himself by walking in Kipnis and Lindor, but Michael Brantley supplied the final blow with a two-run single up the middle.
Part of Pomeranz’s struggles could easily be attributed to the same strike zone that plagued Salazar early on and rightfully so, but it does not stop the fact that Indians batters finally managed to do something with runners in scoring position. When you are batting sub-.200 as a team with the chance to score, you will take just about anything to make it happen.
Even the struggling and bizarrely maligned Carlos Santana got in on the offensive action against A's pitching. After hitting for a triple last night, the "speedster" stole a base (admittedly without a throwout attempt) and also racked up two hits and a walk in tonight's win.
When Salazar looked off, the defense picked him up. When the defense struggled, Salazar got the strikeouts he needed. When the game remained tied 1-1 into the sixth inning, the offense came up big to break it up. On all accounts, this was a full-team effort for the Tribe, and it was extremely fun to watch.This was an excellent display of what the Indians are at their best, and if they can manage to sweep the A’s in this weekend series, they will head into the All-Star break at the magically .500 mark. Here’s hoping.
Win Expectancy Chart
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|12||Deep South Ken||5|
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