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Danny Salazar meltdown costs Cleveland Indians dear in 5-3 defeat

After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, everything came apart for the Tribe in the 5th, with Danny Salazar giving up five runs.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Indians 3, Rays 5

box score

Indians fall to 38-43

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Afte four and a half innings, it looked like there was only going to be one winner in this battle of the power arms. The Tribe had jumped on Gerrit Cole for three runs and Danny Salazar appeared to be at his imperious best. However, Salazar suffered a total meltdown in the 5th and the Pirates took advantage to plate five runs. For the 5th inning this season, Salazar now has a 14.18 ERA  — he's been fine in every other inning, but the 5th has been his nemesis.

Things didn't begin promisingly on offense when Kipnis was struck out on a clearly bogus call and then Brantley was rung up on a 98 MPH heater by Gerrit Cole. However, the Tribe got on top of Cole in the 2nd, when after a Carlos Santana leadoff walk and Brandon Moss single off the end of his bat, Michael Bourn made up for a Giovanny Urshela GIDP by driving an RBI single into RF. The recently re-energized Bourn then stole 2nd, getting to third on errant throw by Chris Stewart. Roberto Perez then singled him home and the Tribe were up 2-0.

And they didn't stop there. Kipnis led off with a double in the 3rd, advancing to third base on a Lindor sac bunt. Then Michael Brantley was typically smooth, scoring Kip on a line drive to LF for a 3-0 lead. Normal service was then resumed for Cole, who retired the Tribe in order in the 4th, 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th (16 in a row).

Meanwhile, Danny Salazar cruised through most of his first four innings, striking out seven and going 1-2-3 in the 1st, 2nd and 4th. His only scare had come in the 3rd, when after a walk and a single to leadoff the inning, he was saved by a heads-up play by Santana to force out the runner at 3rd on a sac bunt, followed by a horrendous baserunning blunder by Chris Stewart, who strayed from 2nd, allowing Roberto Perez to throw him out.

Unfortunately, the wheels came off specatcularly for Salazar in the 5th. A leadoff single was followed by a two-run homer by Pedro Alvarez. Chris Stewart then singled despite a fantastic diving play by Lindor, in which the out call was overturned on review. Two more singles tied the scores and then Andrew McCutcheon drove home two more on a double, forcing Salazar's removal from the game with two outs. So after five, the Tribe now trailed 5-3.

With Salazar prematurely out of the game, a rare opportunity presented itself for the back end of the bullpen to get some much needed innings under their belts, given how often the starters have been going late into games. And they took good advantage. Nick Hagadone retired all three batters he faced, while the increasingly impressive Jeff Manship also retired three in a row and would have had a fourth were it now for Lindor double-clutching one. There was a slight blip when Marc Rzepczynski and Ryan Webb then combined to walk the bases loaded, but Webb was finally able to induce a groundball for the final out of the 7th. Webb then returned for a scoreless in which he conceded just a single.

The Indians reached the halfway point of the season today. There are now just seven games remaining before the All-Star break, with four against the Astros followed by three against the A's, all at home. They need to take six of them to get to .500.

Win Expectancy Chart


Source: FanGraphs

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