Indians end losing streak, cruise to 12-5 win over Chicago
Tribe offense explodes for 12 runs on 13 hits as Salazar gets the victory
CLEVELAND—Everyone knows April showers bring May flowers, but for Terry Francona and the Indians, they can only hope a gloomy first month of the regular season will make for a new, brighter month ahead.
There was reason to believe just that Friday night at Progressive Field.
After dropping six straight on their most recent road trip, the Tribe found themselves back in the win column in the series opener with the Chicago White Sox. Exploding for 12 runs on 13 hits, Cleveland topped the ChiSox, 12-5 to open the month of May with a much needed victory.
“It was a good night offensively for us, and we needed it,” Francona said. “We had a good approach and used the whole field.”
For a team that has struggled when mattered most, the Indians (12-17) went 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position Friday. During their six-game losing streak, they went just 6-for-36 with RISP. It also marked the fourth time since April 11 the Tribe has scored six runs or more in a ballgame, where three of the four times have come against Chicago.
“Everybody kind of knows we had a tough road series, but that’s behind us now,” Yan Gomes said. “We just wanted to come out here and play a good ballgame against a tough White Sox team that’s doing pretty good. It was definitely a good win for us.”
The backstop was one of four Cleveland players that recorded a multi-hit game Friday.
Early on, the central division matchup had the makings of an up and down seesaw battle from both offenses.
Being outscored 19-7 in the first inning coming into the game, the Indians offense jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning against White Sox starter John Danks (2-2, 5.00 ERA). A Carlos Santana RBI double down the left field line gave them the first run of the contest, before Ryan Raburn smacked a two-run double to right field one batter later.
For Raburn, the clutch hit snapped a hitless 0-for-22 streak at the plate.
Gomes drove in another two runs off Danks with a two-run double of his own, as the Tribe sent 10 men to the plate in the inning. Defeating the Indians two weeks ago, the Chicago lefty was tagged for the loss after allowing eight earned runs in five innings Friday.
But, like they have all season long, Cleveland would give a few of those runs back just a half inning later, as the White Sox scored three times off right-hander Danny Salazar (1-3, 5.93 ERA). A leadoff walk and error by second baseman Elliot Johnson set up Alejandro De Aza and Adrian Nieto to knock in a pair with RBI base-hits giving Chicago their first two runs of the game. A pass ball by Gomes allowed the Pale Hose to grab a third run in the second inning.
Despite running into trouble and defensive miscues, Salazar kept great composure and poise on the mound through his entire outing. Tossing five strong innings on the night, the right-hander recorded his first victory of the season, giving up five runs (three earned) on seven hits, walking three and striking out six.
“I thought he did an outstanding job of damage control,” Francona said. “Once he had his hands full, I thought he threw the ball well.”
Starting the season 0-3 with a 7.85 ERA through his first four starts, the 24-year-old Salazar has settled in nicely. In his last two outings, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, allowing four earned runs in 12 innings of work.
He also had the help from his resurging offense, all night long.
Santana launched his fourth homer off Danks in the second inning, giving him three home runs and eight RBI in his last four games.
“He’s such a good hitter,” Francona said. “The good part of is when he gets hot, it’s not just singles, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark, hit the ball in the gaps, still take his walks and be a good run producer for us.”
Left fielder Michael Brantley also chimed in going 3-for-5 with a solo homer in the fifth inning, and a two-run single that put the game away in the sixth.
“I’ve always loved his approach,” Francona said. “I just think he’s maturing. I think his lower half is a little stronger which has allowed him to hit the way he’s always hit, but some of those balls are going farther.”
“I don’t care what takes credit,” Francona said. “It was nice to shake hands, we needed that.”
“There have been a lot of bad things written about this team,” Nick Swisher said. “We pay attention to that.”
Like the ballclub itself, the first baseman has started the season cold, hitting just .214 (24-for-112) with two homers and 11 RBI through the first 29 games.
“We’ve just got to focus on winning some ballgames, not worry about stats,” Swisher said. “We feel good about where we are. This team is streaky, but we can get hot. We can rattle off five, 10, or 15 in a row. It’d be nice to do that right now.”
Up next for Indians: The Wahoo’s will try and make it two in a row against Chicago Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. Still in search of his first win, staff ace Justin Masterson (0-1, 4.84 ERA) toes the rubber versus White Sox right-hander Scott Carroll (1-0, 1.23 ERA).
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
The emergence of Carlos Santana and his lethal bat is truly the biggest story since loss number four on the road trip.. If Carlos keeps swinging like that, he & Dr Smooth can carry this club until they're hitting on all cylinders...
Danny Salazar should sue for lack of support.. defensive blunders and passed balls and just stupid/unfocussed play led to 24 extra pitches.. at least an inning, perhaps two.. That can't be repeated...EJ can't turn a double play if he doesn't make the first out..
The bullpen supported the effort again.. this group is becoming unsung.. four innings, three hits, one walk..no runs. The reliability of the pen is an underappreciated treasure..
Abreu.. wow can that guy hit.. As he learns the pitchers in this league, he's just going to get better.. There slow and slower seem to be his only weakness right now..That might be due to unfamiliarity with the pitchers.. Don't leave anything out over the plate to this guy.. especially if it has any hair on it...If a pitcher does, the catcher will be asking the umpire for a new ball for the next batter after Abreu finishes his trot...
Let's see if Justin Masterson can put together a decent outing this evening.. most of the rain/cold should be outta here by then, so it should be a good evening for a game...
Throw in a passed ball and a wild pitch that allowed two runs to score and the Indians' defense gave away about four runs.
As long as they score 12 that shouldn't be a problem.
Nice to see Raburn finally get off the schnide.
Brantley already has five dingers in 29 games. He's on pace for 28 HR's this year. And the ball flies farther in hot weather than in frigid April. He may have finally developed into a power hitter.
He's also on pace for about 120 RBI despite Kipnis and Swisher not getting on base much. This is shaping up for a huge year. Their decision to sign him to a long term deal is looking very good.
Salazar impressed me with his poise and competitiveness when he got in trouble, and especially after the defense let him down multiple times. He had to throw a lot of extra pitches. He was able to get K's and double play balls when he needed to, or this would have been a close game.
He may never throw Abreu another breaking ball again, though.