You’re not going to win many games in which your pitchers give up five homers. That’s the story of this game, short and not-so-sweet. I could leave it at that, but why not get into the gory details?
What went down
Danny Salazar has been bad this season. Danny Salazar was bad tonight. Danny Salazar will be __?__ for the rest of the season.
Who knows if or when Danny can get things sorted out. He has the raw stuff; that much has never been in doubt. But he simply cannot seem to get that stuff under control, and the fact is that he’s doing damage to the team so far this season.
Though his K rate remains insane, his BB/9 and HR/9 are also reaching worrisome levels. Through tonight, Salazar has given up nine homers through 41 1⁄3 innings. Compare that to the “just” 16 homers he gave up last year in 137 1⁄3 innings. That is... not good. A whopping four of those nine homers came tonight:
- 2nd inning: Colby Rasmus solo homer (379 ft, 102 mph exit velocity)
- 3rd inning: Derrik Norris solo homer (369 ft, 105 mph exit velocity)
- 3rd inning (back-to-back): Corey Dickerson solo homer (385 ft, 107 mph exit velocity)
- 5th inning: Corey Dickerson (449 ft, 107 mph exit velocity)
Yikes. Now, you could make a case that, hey, they’re all solo shots! Maybe Danny pitched OK otherwise! Thing is, you can forgive a solo homer or two, but when you’re giving up 449 ft dongs, you know there’s something wrong. Salazar didn’t work a single clean inning after the 1st (which was a minor miracle in and of itself). And in typical Salazar fashion, he was out of the game with just barely five innings pitched, exiting after surrendering a double to lead off the 6th.
Danny’s struggles were the biggest contributor to tonight’s loss, but Shawn Armstrong also contributed a rare bad inning. He allowed an inherited runner to score on a two-run homer by Tim Beckham, and gave up another hit before finally recording three outs. Based on performance thus far in 2017, though, we have reason to think that might be a blip for Armstrong. Three more Tribe pitchers combined to hold the Rays scoreless in the last three innings, but the damage was already done.
The Indians bats actually put up a respectable showing, but couldn’t overcome the whole dug by the pitching. The lineup was shut down early by Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, but there are worse people to be shut down by. They made a few late runs, though, touching up Odorizzi in the 6th for three runs including an Edwin Encarnacion homer (!). There was brief hope, but then the top of the Tribe order was set down handily in the 8th by Jose Alvarado. Encarnacion led off the 9th with a single and reached second on a fielder’s choice groundout, but that was as close as it would get. Lonnie Chisenhall put up perhaps the worst at bat of the night, whiffing pathetically, and was followed by the second worst at bat of the night, a Yan Gomes K, to end it.
Narratives of note
Zimmer’s disappointing debut
The hype meter was off the charts, but Rays pitching proved too much for rookie centre fielder Bradley Zimmer. Zim struck out three times, and was spared a fourth potential strikeout due to the aforementioned Gomes game-ending K.
EE breaking out?
I feel like I’ve used this headline before, but could this be it? Edwin’s 6th inning homer was his first extra base hit since May 5th (yikes), and it was a beauty: a rocket shot just right of centre field, hit with an effortless stroke on a fastball on the outer half of the plate. That’s a great sign for someone who has been swinging and missing with such great intensity lately.
Clevinger’s odd relief appearance
For reasons that are not entirely clear yet, Mike Clevinger came on to face one batter in the 9th inning after Boone Logan recorded the first two outs. Clevinger retired Evan Longoria but, like, what the hell? According to the STO guys, apparently Clevinger was scheduled for some side work earlier today but missed it. Tito had him throwing in the bullpen to make up for it, and I guess just decided to bring him in for the fun of it. No word as of this writing as to how this might affect his upcoming starts.
The last word
As frustrating as it was to watch Salazar continue to poop the bed, I’m somehwat encouraged that the offense showed some fight against a decent starter. Seems the offense has made a habit of looking completely lifeless in losses recently, but I don’t think that was the case tonight. Several guys contributed to scoring efforts, it just wasn’t quite enough.
As for Danny? Who knows. But there’s not a done of organizational starting depth right now, especially with Corey Kluber out and Carlos Carrasco potentially hurt. For all those folks calling on the Tribe to DO SOMETHING about Danny, I suggest you take a breath and buckle in. We’re gonna have to ride this out one way or another.