Murphy, Indians offense explode to rout Texas, 12-2
A six run fifth inning helps Salazar and the Tribe win the series opener
CLEVELAND—All it takes is a flip of the calendar.
With just two months of the regular season remaining on the schedule, the Tribe offense flipped the switch on high to jump-start an important stretch of baseball in August and September that lie ahead.
A new month almost seemed like a clean slate for the wavering Indians, and it showed on Friday night. The club exploded for a dozen runs on 16 hits to rout Texas in the series opener, 12-2.
“We haven’t had very many games like that,” manager Terry Francona said. “We’ve played so many close games it’s really good just to have some breathing room for a night.”
Just like it was Thursday, Tribe bats were out in full force early. An RBI double by Michael Brantley in the first inning notched the first run, before tacking on two more in the third, highlighted on a Carlos Santana RBI single off Rangers starter Jerome Williams (2-5, 6.71 ERA).
For Williams, the beating was just getting started.
The offense added another two runs in the fourth to quickly gain a five run lead, first from Mike Aviles on two-out RBI base-hit. Then, Brantley struck again, lining a run in on a single to drive in his team-leading 68th RBI of the season.
It was a comfortable lead not only on the offensive side of the ball, but for starter Danny Salazar (4-4, 4.45 ERA) as well.
The right-hander looked sharp again Friday, tossing six quality innings allowing just one unearned run on four hits, walking three and striking out four.
“What I really liked from the get-go was he was throwing his best stuff,” Francona said. “When he lets it go, there’s so much deception with his off-speed to go with his fastball, that’s when he really gets good.”
Since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus, Salazar is an undefeated 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA, surrendering just four runs in 18 innings.
“Right now I feel good in the game and can make adjustments if I need it,” he said.
“He can give us a huge lift,” David Murphy said. “We know exactly the type of stuff that he has, and know how talented he is. It’s just him applying it and being comfortable at the big league level. He’s looked great since he’s been back.”
Muphy too also faired great Friday, going 4-for-4 at the plate against his former club.
“In my second to last at-bat last night, I kind of felt something that I tried to key off of and take that into tonight,” he said. “Obviously there was some success there.”
The left-handed outfielder cashed in the biggest during Cleveland’s best inning of the night—a six run fifth.
Loading up the bases with no outs, Yan Gomes got things started with an RBI single before Murphy came up big in the clutch, lacing a two-run double down the right field line off Williams.
“I’ve felt pretty good since the All-Star break,” he said “Things are coming along and tonight was a good night.
The 32-year-old outfielder is now hitting .438 (14-for-32) over his last 10 games.
“Took some good swings, had some balls fall in, had a little luck trending in the right direction,” Murphy said. “More importantly, it was a great balanced offensive effort and just a great win tonight.”
When it was over, Williams would allow 10 runs on 13 hits through just four innings of work.
The game was capped off on a solo homer by Chisenhall, his tenth of the season in the sixth. It gave the Wahoos at least a dozen runs for the first time since their last meeting with the Rangers back on June 9.
"It’s always great to have a win like this,” Murphy said. “It helps you relax a little bit. You go out there and have fun and more importantly, if you can take a game like this and kind of build some momentum into tomorrow, that’s huge.”
Cleveland (54-55) is 11-1-2 on the year when winning the first game of a series.
Up next for Indians: The Tribe looks to keep the offensive surge going, hoping to make it two straight against Texas Saturday night. Southpaw T.J. House (1-2, 4.50 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make the start opposite of Rangers right-hander Miles Mikolas (1-3, 8.54 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.
The Indians will hold a special ceremony to unveil the new Jim Thome statue prior to the ballgame at 5 p.m. behind the center field wall near Heritage Park.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Best wishes to them in their new careers. It will be very interesting to see what they sign for next year.