Second Thoughts Game #126: Indians 4, Angels 1
Long, hard night comes to triumphant end for Tribe
Another Glimpse into the Future
It became crystal clear on Tuesday night that the Indians are being cautious to a fault with star pitching prospect Danny Salazar, who continues to inch ever-closer to his predetermined innings limit as he is now in the home stretch of his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Despite giving up a leadoff homer to J.B. Shuck in the first inning, Salazar dominated in his 5 1/3 innings of work before being lifted in the sixth after throwing 75 pitches. The right-hander only allowed three hits (including the homer) and two walks while striking out seven.
The Indians are walking a very fine line with Salazar right now. He’s proving he’s capable of pitching in the majors and adjusting accordingly as hitters adjust to him. Being in the middle of a playoff race, that kind of talent and depth in their rotation is a definite plus. However, with him being only 23 years old, the team also has to consider his and their future and not do irreparable harm to a budding pitcher with potential ace-like talent.
Now I don’t want to get in the debate of strict pitch counts and innings limits versus old school thinking, but it will be interesting to see what the Indians do when Salazar is officially shut down for the year. Corey Kluber, who is on the DL with a finger sprain, is expected to be out for at least another couple weeks, so the Indians will have a vacant spot to fill. Internal options include Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, TJ House and possibly Josh Tomlin depending on how his rehab progresses.
The future is bright for the Indians' starting rotation, but they still have to find a way to get through the rest of this year.
Sleepless in Anaheim
It was the most exciting, frustrating, boring and astonishing night of baseball that most Cleveland fans probably will ever see. It started with Salazar giving up the leadoff homer to Shuck, handing the Angels the early 1-0 lead. And the way C.J. Wilson was carving up the Tribe lineup, it appeared that lead would hold, that is until Carlos Santana jacked a solo shot over the center field wall that took Peter Bourjos’s glove with it tying the game at one.
The game then became frustrating as the Indians would not collect another hit until the 13th inning when Yan Gomes hit a two-out single, but would not score. The astonishing elements of this game came courtesy of the Tribe pitching staff and defense as they thwarted not one, but multiple scoring and potential walk-off opportunities for the Angels. In the 10th, the Indians worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam and kept the game tied. In the 12th, Hank Conger launched a deep fly ball to center field with a runner in scoring position and two-outs, but a sensational catch by Michael Bourn against the wall ended the inning.
Need to start a rally? Maybe a bloke by the name of Joe Blanton can help you out with that. As one of the last resorts for the Angels in their bullpen, the right-hander was summoned to try and keep the game tied. The Indians had other ideas, though, as they finally broke through to plate three runs on three hits, including a two-run blast by Drew Stubbs and a run scored on a throwing error ultimately leading up to a 4-1 Indians win.
The victory clinches the series for the Tribe and guarantees a winning record on this latest road trip with a chance at a three-game sweep. Depending on what you choose to look at whether it be the offensive struggles, the prowess of the pitching in keeping the Angels from scoring the go-ahead run(s) or the highlight defensive plays, in the end the result is still the same with a team refusing to give in regardless of how the opposition holds them back or how they hold themselves back. Such has made for an exciting season of baseball in Cleveland.
Quote of the Game:
“A huge exhale of relief and satisfaction,” – Drew Stubbs on hitting go-ahead homer in 14th.
Facts and Notes:
- The Indians now have the best record in extra-inning games this season (9-2) and have hit the most extra-inning homers (7).
- RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka requested and was granted his release from the Indians organization on Tuesday. Matsuzaka was 5-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts for AAA Columbus this season.
- With Tuesday’s win, the Indians are now tied with Texas for best record against the AL West at 20-7.
- Danny Salazar now has 29 strikeouts, the most by a rookie Indians pitcher in his first four MLB starts since Herb Score racked up 40 in 1955.
Up Next: Indians vs. Angels @ Angels Stadium. First pitch at 7:05 ET.
After their stunning extra innings win against the Halos on Tuesday night, the Indians will try to go for the three-game sweep to cap off the nine-game road swing. However both teams will be looking for length from their starters after burning through their bullpens the night before.
That task will fall in the hands of Justin Masterson and Jerome Williams. The last time those two met in Cleveland, Masterson only lasted four innings while giving up five runs (four earned). Williams pitched five and two thirds innings and allowed four runs. Both pitchers received no-decisions as the Indians rallied to win 6-5.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.