Second Thoughts Game #119: Indians 0, Twins 3
Albers and Twins defense shut down Tribe in series opener
Salazar not as sharp
It was evident from the first pitch of the game that rookie sensation Danny Salazar did not have his best stuff. Brian Dozier smacked the second pitch he saw from him over the center field wall at Target Field. Incidentally, the first two pitches only topped out at 90-92 mph. His fastball command didn’t get much better in the second inning as Trevor Plouffe planted one in the left field seats for a two-run shot, which accounted for all the scoring for the rest of the game.
Is there cause for concern? Probably not since Salazar has been on a strict post-Tommy John surgery innings limit all season in AAA in order to stretch out his service time as much as possible this season should the Tribe need to call him up. The seven-plus innings and 100-plus pitches he threw in his start against Detroit was, by far, his longest of the year both in the minors and majors and he probably was still a bit tired from it.
That being said, he wasn’t all that bad outside of the two pitches to Dozier and Plouffe. After realizing his fastball wasn’t as sharp as his first two big league starts, Salazar switched over to his offspeed pitches and got positive results as he struck out four batters following the Plouffe homer. Very encouraging to see a rookie starter make in-game adjustments in just his third major league start and be able to get better results.
Anemic offense or tough luck?
The best way for me to answer that question is a little bit of both. It’s no secret that the lineup has been in a slump the last week or so, a streakiness that has become characteristic of the Tribe this season. They were able to break out of it yesterday with a comeback win over the Angels on Sunday, but failed to capitalize on Monday against rookie southpaw Andrew Albers, who dominated the Tribe in a two-hit shutout effort. Albers got a helping hand or two from his defense as several sensational catches and plays throughout the night.
Why do the Indians get dominated by a guy who can’t even throw 90 mph? Three words: Location, location, location. Modern baseball thinking dictates that the guys who can throw 100 mph fastballs are the ones who are most successful. While in many cases that is true, velocity doesn’t account for much if a pitcher is unable to locate his pitches. It’s tougher for soft-tossers, but it’s not impossible for them to be effective.
For Albers, he was able to avoid leaving pitches too far over the plate and change speeds to keep Indians hitters off balance the whole night. Only Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes were able to record hits off the left-hander in nine innings. That and the defense behind him being on their toes the whole night proved to be a rough combo for the Indians in addition to their own offensive issues.
Facts and Notes:
- Andrew Albers became the first pitcher since 1979 to pitch more than eight innings in his first two career MLB starts.
- Mark Reynolds was granted his unconditional release from the Indians prior to Monday’s game after clearing waivers.
- New Indians lefty Marc Rzepczynski has not allowed a run since being traded to the Indians. He’s now pitched in seven games (seven innings) while allowing only two hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
- Indians outfield prospect Logan Vick has been promoted from Lake County (Mid-A) to Carolina (High-A). A corresponding move from Carolina to Akron (AA) is expected (i.e. Bryson Myles, Tyler Naquin).
Up Next: Indians vs. Twins @ Target Field. First pitch at 8:10 ET.
Zach McAllister will try to get back on track after a rough start against Detroit last week in which he lasted only two and a third innings while giving up five runs. Up to that point, McAllister appeared to be bouncing back nicely from his injury allowing only three earned runs or less in his first three starts back with the Tribe. Unfortunately, the right-hander has had his share of struggles against the Twins as he pitched into the fifth inning only once in his three starts against them last season.
For Minnesota, Sam Deduno will make his second start of the year against the Tribe. The right-hander pitched six innings while allowing four runs in his last start against Cleveland earning him a loss. Deduno is also coming off a similar start against the Royals where he took the loss while allowing four runs on 12 hits in five and two thirds innings of work.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.