Indians fall to 6-6
This recap (aside from the conclusion) was written during the game.
Salazar gave up two hits in the innings, including a line drive that somehow missed hitting him, but he got out of the inning thanks to his changeup. That change had tremendous downward break, making both Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager look foolish. Taijuan Walker had a similar attack in the bottom of the inning, throwing his fastball up in the zone while changing eye level with a split change of his own. Francisco Lindor had a good swing, but his line drive ended up in the glove of shortstop Luis Sardinas
Control eluded Salazar for much of the inning, and it cost him. Adam Lind, seeing that the Indians were shifting to the right, went center square, punching a grounder past where Francisco Lindor usually plays. Salazar walked Chris Ianetta, and after striking out the next two, missed on the inner half plate to Nori Aoki, who smoked a ball past Mike Napoli. If Lonnie Chisenhall had fielded the ball in the corner cleanly, Ianetta probably doesn't even attempt to go home, but Lonnie bobbled the ball, allowing a second run to come home.
Carlos Santana broke out of a mini-slump with a double to the base of the wall in center field, but he was stranded at second. Lonnie Chisenhall made his 2016 debut at the plate, and after a lengthy at-bat grounded out to first base.
Salazar settled down, retiring the 3-4-5 Mariners hitters in order. He needed the quick inning, as he had to throw 25 pitches in the second frame. In the bottom of the frame, the Indians got a run back when Jason Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track. That run was set up mainly by Jose Ramirez's double down the right field line (the official scorer called it a straight error, but I don't care..that was a hit).
An uneventful inning, with the only base runner being Carlos Santana, who was nicked in the shirt by a Walker fastball. Otherwise, both pitchers cruised.
Both pitchers are likely done for the night, and both acquitted themselves nicely. Walker was very impressive, making Tribe hitters uncomfortable all night. His split change fed off his mid-90s fastball, and he mixed in what appears to be a slider (slurve?) occasionally to mix things up. Salazar didn't have the command Walker had, but otherwise was dominating with the exception of the second inning. Let's hope that Chisenhall bobble isn't the final margin tonight.
Salazar is out to start the inning despite having thrown 100 pitches. Perhaps Terry Francona figures that he can get the 8 and 9 hitters and then go to the bullpen. Salazar's velocity is still there, and he's had some easy innings of late.
When you hear about infielder range, you think about about side-to-side range, but on a chopper just past the pitcher Lindor showed excellent back-to-front range in charging in, fielding, and throwing on the run to get Luis Sardinas.
Well, Salazar got through the seventh without an issue, leaving Manship and Detwiler still warming up. Ok, now the game's in the hands of the bullpens.
Wily vet Joel Peralta got two outs from faking out Indians players. First, he quick-pitched Yan Gomes and got him to swing and miss on a changeup. Then he picked off pinch-runner Rajai Davis by making a head bob; Davis took off, and was stuck in no-man's land. Davis stays in the game in left field, with Jose Ramirez moving in to play third base.
Ross Detwiler, who may be pitching for his 25-man roster spot, gets pinch-hitter (and LGFT) Franklin Gutierrez and Robinson Cano on grounders to second, and gives way to Jeff Manship. I would presume Manship will be in the game for the next four outs. He gets Nelson Cruz on strikes.
The bottom of the inning started out very promising for the Tribe, as Tyler Naquin laced a single off Joaquin Benoit to start the inning. But then came....the sacrifice bunt. Not only did Terry Francona take the bat out of Jose Ramirez's hand, the bunt was right back to the pitcher. Naquin was forced out at second, and the Indians lost an out without gaining anything. Ramirez would get to second base on a wild pitch, but wouldn't advance from there.
Jeff Manship set down the Mariners in order, but unfortunately so did Steve Cishek. The Mariners didn't record a hit after Aoki's double (scored a triple, but I think it should have been a triple and an error), but it was enough.
Final: Mariners 2, Indians 1
There wasn't much offense tonight, and so that bobble in right field did turn out to be the deciding factor. Taijuan Walker took things from there, and the Indians botched their late-inning opportunities (Davis getting picked off in the seventh, the decision to sac bunt in the eighth, the execution of the sacrifice bunt in the eighth). Danny Salazar again pitched very well, and the bullpen kept the Indians in the game, but tonight they would have had to be perfect.
Let's hope the Cavaliers game, which is going on across the street, turns out better.
(For the two people reading this, tomorrow's game starts at noon Eastern.)
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