The Cleveland Indians did not play well this evening in their first 2017 game against the Kansas City Royals. The starter for the Royals, Jason Hammel, hadn’t won a baseball game since 1827. Danny Salazar was throwing fastballs up around 1000 mph. Jason Kipnis and Edwin Encarnacion both had great days at the plate. But it all wasn’t enough as the Royals topped the Cleveland Indians by a score of 3-1.
The game started off as a pitcher’s duel as both pitchers held the opposition to a combined four hits over the first three innings. Sure Danny Salazar walked a couple of batters, but none of the free passes ended up hurting him. Both pitchers labored and had pitch count concerns as early as the fifth inning. The difference was Salazar began to fall apart in the fifth inning while Hammel made it through six with just one run allowed, making tonight easily his best game of the season.
For a while, it looked like the Cleveland Indians would win a nail biter as they struck first on a #Edwing to the camera man in left center field. Sure, the offense was basically nonexistent aside from Jason Kipnis and Edwin Encarnacion (literally, they were the only two players with hits and they each had two. Also, neither of them struck out, so that was neat), but with the way Salazar was pitching, that may have been enough.
That actually may be giving a bit too much credit to Danny. He only gave up two runs, but he only lasted 4.2 innings. Granted, pitch count will always be an issue with Salazar due to his tendency to either strike out or walk everyone he faces. The frustrating part of Danny’s start tonight wasn’t the home run he game up to *groans* Eric Hosmer, but the fact that he kept extending innings after getting two outs. Take the first inning, for example: after getting a groundout of Whit Merrifield and a strikeout of Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain battled for eight pitches before drawing a walk and then Hosmer singled on the next pitch. In the second inning, Brandon Moss walked after Alex Gordon grounded out and Jorge Bonifacio struck out. The third inning followed the same pattern. Salazar, despite having fantastic velocity on his fastball tonight, could not have a clean inning.
Things unraveled for Danny in the fifth inning when
Otho Sackville-Baggins Whit Merrifield led off the inning with a single to center on the first pitch. On the very next pitch, Mike Moustakas lined a ball to right field. Lorenzo Cain mercifully grounded into a double play that gave hope for a scoreless inning, but then Eric Hosmer launched the first pitch he saw deep to center field (ESPN just notified me that his home run went 469 feet and was the longest of the season). Salazar missed with a fastball up in the zone and Hosmer made him pay. So Salazar made a mistake pitch and his night was done. But he overall had amazing stuff throughout the game that should make you excited to watch him pitch going forward.
Or don’t get excited. Based on some of the comments in tonight’s game thread, there’s no reason to ever be happy ever again ever. It is frustrating when the team loses, especially following the magical 2016 season. Expectations for this team are high and every misstep is magnified because of those expectations. But it’s May 5th. Every game is not do or die. If games this early in the season are agonizing for you, get up and do something fun. Play some video games. Watch some Youtube videos. Read a comic book (I’m in the middle of the Black Science series and it is phenomenal). But try to remember that the baseball season is a long one and there will be plenty of time down the road to agonize over heartbreaking losses. A 3-1 loss (look, memes!) in May is not a heartbreaking loss. I fully support criticizing the team when they play poorly, but do so in a way that is more nuanced than the groundskeepers in Major League. Baseball sucked today, but at least it can get better tomorrow.
Tonight’s loss was...
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Unfortunate, but it happens. Get ‘em tomorrow.
The worst thing since "The Wave" was invented.
Reason enough for me to sell my home and become a dirty vagabond.
No but really, please score more runs.