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Salazar's struggles continue, Indians fall to Royals, 8-2

Shields silents Tribe hitters, as Kansas City evens up the series

Salazar's struggles continue, Indians fall to Royals, 8-2
Mike Moustakas celebrates after slugging a three-run homer off Danny Salazar in the fourth.
April 23, 2014
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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.

Two straight singles by Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler set the stage for third baseman Mike Moustakas to rip a three-run homer to the stands, giving K.C. a 3-1 lead.

“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

User Comments

April 24, 2014 - 11:52 AM EDT
Yeah you need to keep Santana out there playing everyday. Maybe give him more games as the DH (or all of them), but still a presense in that lineup and need to play him to work out of this slump. OBP is still higher than Bourn, Swisher, Cabrera, Raburn, and Aviles. Not saying get excited about a .310 OBP but he still finds ways to get on base. He's not going to hit .130 all year.

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.
April 24, 2014 - 3:36 AM EDT
Hawk, we've been over this a million times: you don't take your best offensive player who just turned 28, who most teams would kill to have as their catcher, and just make him a DH. He doesn't want to be a DH. In modern baseball, you honor that, or trade him away. It's just the way it is. Had the Tribe not agreed to Carlos becoming a third baseman, they were in a world of hurt with him. An unhappy Santana DH'ing? The only thing worse would be Santana DH'ing everyday and not hitting. As it is right now, the team is thrilled that Carlos can play a passable 3B, so a crisis is averted. And sooner or later, Santana will warm up with the bat. This is not the first bad month he's had at the dish and it won't be his last.
April 23, 2014 - 11:04 AM EDT
I don’t believe the answer is in Moncrief, Morgan or Aquilar I can’t see how they will fit on this roster with the amount of money being paid to Swisher, Bourn, and Murphy. And to be quite honest I really don’t think that those players are the issue we need to worry over. The issue is which two starting pitchers will give us innings with a chance to win replacing what we lost with Ubaldo and Kazmir from last year. We need to find 2 pitchers from a pool of Carrasco Salazar Bauer and Tomlin to go deeper in the game while giving us a chance to win. Bringing up position players from Columbus would not overcome that pitching performance by Salazar last night.
April 23, 2014 - 10:44 AM EDT
Cleveland has the makings of a fine infield if Lindor, Urshela and Aguilar pan out and that is an exciting prospect. We still need starting pitching prospects and OF prospects. Naquin appears to be, at the very best, a 4th OF and you expect better from a 1st round pick. Frazier is the gem OF prospect obviously. Can Moncrief help Cleveland this season?
April 23, 2014 - 10:37 AM EDT
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.
April 23, 2014 - 10:29 AM EDT
We are now at the 20-game mark. I think there are some things with Carrasco that may still materialize so the Indians give him at least another start or two. Plus he has no options remaining, so the Indians are kind of limited what they can do with him. Salazar is a different animal. They can easily option him out and call up Bauer. It is a pretty seamless move that doesn't affect any other roles on the pitching staff. Also, the difference with Salazar vs. Carrasco is while both are struggling, Carrasco has the stuff but just lacks the consistency. Salazar lacks the stuff and consistency to start right now, so it might be wise to send him to Triple-A to refine his slider or modify it into a cutter. Something. Because right now things are not going to change unless he has a suitable third pitch. Whether he believes he is tipping his pitches or not, bottom line, his stuff is too much out over the plate, straight and hittable. The lack of separation between his slider and changeup is another issue as well. He is a guy who NEEDS an effective breaking ball to throw hitters off his good fastball-changeup combo.

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.
April 23, 2014 - 10:17 AM EDT
How long will the Indians be patient with Salazar and Carrasco before they would need to make a move regarding there starting rotation?
April 23, 2014 - 9:57 AM EDT
I think we need to be patient on third base. I know Santana's struggles at the plate are not helping the matter, but if anyone thought Santana would be a finished product right out of the gates at third then that is on them. He's actually progressing well and proving to be a guy who as he settles in more is going to be a solid defender there. In the meantime, while he adapts to the position, you are going to get games like last night where he misses some routine plays or he has nights where he is just awful out there. It's all part of the transition. If he is still inconsistent come July, then I will be on board as believing the 3B experiment was a waste.
April 23, 2014 - 9:51 AM EDT
Third Base needs to be fixed. Santana & Chisenhall combo has to be as bad as it gets defensively in baseball.

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.
April 23, 2014 - 9:40 AM EDT
Perez can certainly be much worse than Santana. And of course Santana has a history of at least solid performance on his side. Perez is a worse hitter than Lou Marson. Again, I am fine with him getting an occasional look as a backup, but if he is playing more than once a week then it's an issue. Roberto Perez is not going to help things. What will help things is an infield defense that starts making plays and the starting catcher starting to throw the ball better.
April 23, 2014 - 9:30 AM EDT
The skill that major league teams value the most in a backup catcher is defense and Perez can play defense at the highest level. As far as his offense goes, can he be much worse than Santana? Carlos is hitting .136 with 1 HR and 3 RBI.

Santana needs to be placed on the DL as he is currently an automatic out.
April 23, 2014 - 9:27 AM EDT
Salazar's average fastball velocity is down from 95.9 mph last year to 93.7 mph so far this season. That's a pretty big difference. It's early still (April velocities are historically lower than the rest of the year) and Salazar got a late start to spring training, but losing over 2 mph to a fastball is pretty material.

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.
April 23, 2014 - 9:23 AM EDT
Roberto Perez is not a good solution. He is a good defender, but he's a poor hitter and should only be used at the Major League level on a very occasional basis as a backup or even just a temp fill in as a third catching option for a team.

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.
April 23, 2014 - 9:11 AM EDT
How's that sand today Matthew.? You know, the sand your head is stuck in.
April 23, 2014 - 8:59 AM EDT
There are a whole lot of chicken littles on this site. Get a grip.
April 23, 2014 - 8:49 AM EDT
If Santana has some minor ankle issues PUT HIM ON 15 DAY DL. Let him heal and also let his head clear from his struggles at the plate. CALL UP Aquilar during this time period and play him everyday to give a chance to establish himself as an offensive threat.
April 23, 2014 - 8:47 AM EDT
When you are 24, you are no longer a kid. He has options. Send him down and call up Bauer (who is a year younger btw).

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.
April 23, 2014 - 8:31 AM EDT
The intrigue of Danny Salazar continues to wane.. He hasn't been the front of the rotation ace that was dreamed of.. and has only shown signs of it during the early going of each of his outings. If he were at Lake County, they would piggy back him.. He's not.. and the Indians won't.. You have to tell yourself that the Indians just finished the third week of the season.. it's not a sprint. Danny is a good pitcher, a hard worker and, with the help of the players and staff.. will figure it out..

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..
April 23, 2014 - 8:24 AM EDT
They're not going to send Santana to the minors. They wouldn't even consider it.

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.
April 23, 2014 - 12:47 AM EDT
The teams most glaring and debilitating weakness is Carlos Santana. Not only is he hitting .136, he is below average defensively at catcher, third and first. His batting average is below that of most pitchers in the National League. Fine you say, it's a slump and he'll get out of it. But his approach doesn't lend itself to improvement. Take most pitches, look (guess) for one you can hit and swing hard in case you hit it. Pitchers have figured this out and they're getting ahead in the count and not letting him walk. He's not adjusting back. He learned how to do it one way where he grew up, he's stubborn, he's a millionaire and I haven't seen anything that leads me to believe he's going to change. I think the team would be better off sending him down and bringing up Roberto Perez- a really good second catcher who will hit .220. I would also bring up Giovanni Urshela and send down Elliot Johnson. Nothing against Elliot Johnson- he's a great character, but I have never seen a guy that takes up a roster spot that is used less than he is.

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