Salazar's struggles continue, Indians fall to Royals, 8-2
Shields silents Tribe hitters, as Kansas City evens up the series
CLEVELAND—Nobody said it was easy.
For 24-year-old Danny Salazar (0-3, 7.85 ERA), the fast-pace of the big leagues is slowly beginning to wear on the Tribe starter in 2014. His growing pains continued Tuesday night, as the Indians fell to Kansas City, 8-2.
The right-hander was tagged for five runs (four earned) on seven hits in just 4 1/3 innings. Over his last three outings, Salazar is now 0-3 with a 9.95 ERA having never reached a full five innings.
“I don’t want to put it all on youth, because this is the kid that we gave the ball to in a playoff game,” Indians skipper Terry Francona said. “But with health and experience, he’s going to learn how to do this better. I think right now he’s having a tough time and he’s being tested.”
Salazar noted after the game that he thinks he may be tipping his pitches.
“Maybe I’m doing something obvious so they know what pitches I’m going to throw,” he said. “This is tough, it’s not easy. I just need to keep my head up.”
His offense didn’t give him much to work with either, scoring just two runs on nine hits on the night. Cleveland (9-11) has managed to score four runs or fewer in six of their last eight ballgames.
“Some of that has to do with the opposing pitchers,” Francona said. “I do think our at-bats are getting better, it’s obvious though we just need to start stringing them together.”
Offensively, the Tribe wouldn’t string together much of anything against Royals ace James Shields (2-2, 1.91 ERA), tagging him for just two runs (one earned) through six innings.
“Unfortunately he’s pretty much the same every time we see him. That’s why he’s one of the best,” Francona said.
Indians bats would strike first off Shields, on a RBI base-hit by Michael Bourn in the second. Big game or not, it was all “Big Game James” shortly thereafter, as the All-Star walked one and struck out nine for his second straight win.
Shelds improves to 4-5 with a 3.69 ERA in his career against the Tribe.
Salazar looked sharp through the first three innings, walking two and striking out four as Royals hitters went 0-for-9 against him. Then, he would fall apart in the fourth.
“We had him on the ropes there, but that three-run homer really kind of put us down,” first baseman Nick Swisher said. “We battled back the best we could, we just didn’t have enough tonight.”
Royals hitters would go 7-for-11 against Salazar after tossing three scoreless frames, capped off on a RBI double by Butler in the fifth that ended the starter’s night.
“It’s growing pains,” Swisher said. “This is kind of his first go-around and we have the upmost trust in him. He’s a young cat and he’ll feel it out.”
Yan Gomes tried to get a rally started for the Tribe in the sixth, lacing a RBI double down the left field line, but Kansas City tacked on another run a half inning later in the seventh on a double by Hosmer to remove all doubt.
The Royals first baseman continues to be the Royals go to bat, going 4-for-5 in the game.
“If you look at the moves that were made in the offseason, the central really bumped itself up,” Swisher said. “There are a lot of good pitchers in this division, and there’s always going to be a challenge. “No one is going to feel sorry for us, we have to find our game and bring it every day.”
Like the team, Tribe fans didn’t exactly bring much to the game either Tuesday night, as the 8,848 fans in attendance marked the second lowest attendance total in Progressive Field history.
Up next for Indians: Cleveland will look to get back in the win column Wednesday against the Royals at 7:05 p.m. In search of his first victory, staff ace Justin Masterson (0-0, 4.98 ERA) toes the rubber versus Kansas City southpaw Jason Vargas (2-0, 1.24 ERA).
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
I'd be fine with a move to DH with him though as said. Clearly pressing and they are just giving him way too much right now. Let him focus on hitting and then worry about playing 3B. Chiz is fine over there and Aviles can play it vs lefties then.
I really don’t understand why the Indians are so insistent that Santana play the field. Why not make him your DH and give him the occasional start at catcher and first?
I was at last night’s game and from the seat I was at it appeared that the ball Butler hit in the fourth inning should have been a double play. Had Santana turned that ball into a double play Salazar is out of inning with a low pitch count heading to the fifth. This is not piling on Santana, it’s how innings have been compounded this season. I remember how plays like that would affect McAllister a few years back; I see the same in Salazar. The pitch after that home run he reared back and threw nothing but fastballs walking Escobar, rattled worse when Escobar stole second and took third. Salazar needs some work on his mental game and not let the game affect his approach and learn to limit damage.
It may be early....but 20 games is 1/8 of the season....and this is not a rebuilding year where you string guys out and see what you have. This is about winning and trying to compete and win this year, which means some patience goes out the window and you have to be proactive with players on the roster and looking to improve it. Bauer is the hot hand right now, why not see what he can do while Salazar goes to Columbus to find his fastball command (and more importantly work more down in the zone) and get that breaking ball right.
Only internal option is AA Urshela and they will not call him up this year in my opinion. That leaves external options and the guys we can deal for a third baseman are Masterson, Santana and Cabrera.
Santana needs to be placed on the DL as he is currently an automatic out.
Bauer isn't 100% a finished product, but he's ready for MLB. His arm was heavily used at UCLA and there may be only so many bullets left in that arm -- he should be with the big boys in Cleveland now.
By the way, anyone paying attention to Aaron Harang's magnificent start? 0.70 ERA, 0.82 WHIP. Ouch. I agree with the Indians seeing what they have in Carlos Carrasco (hoping he's a starter), but it's beginning to look evident that he's a bullpen arm.
While the starting pitching has been a concern so far, the defense might be my biggest concern. I mean, Salazar still has to make his pitches, but if Santana makes that play in the fourth inning then Salazar is out of the jam. It wasn't an "error" in the books, but is definitely another example of how some plays that are not being made (that should be made) are hurting this staff. The errors only compound it.
It's too bad we didn't sell (trade) Santana high after last season. He needs to be placed on the DL and Shy's idea of calling up C Perez is perfectly sound,
Starting pitching looks weak along with team defense. Third base is a black hole in need of a permanent solution. Unless things change, this team will finish with a losing record.
Bourn was much better in the field last night.. much more aggressive at the plate.. he may be finally settling into being the Michael Bourn the club thought they would get when they signed him last year.. Still a ways to go..
BTW.. on the whole..Indians fans have to realize that the guy on the hill for the Royals is one of thee best starters in the AL. The Indians had several chances to hurt him, but, he's just that good...Tonight, the roles are reversed.. The Indians will be sending our big guy to the hill..but, historicially.. Masterson has been shelled by these guys.. regularly.. Ahh.. aint baseball great..
He is really messed up at the plate, though. He even tried to bunt for a base hit against the shift last night. He couldn't even do that.
Roberto Perez is not the answer.