Salazar and Seven Relievers Outlast Sox; Indians 3, White Sox 1
Bob Toth | On 13, Sep 2013
A strong but short start from Danny Salazar and the work of seven different relievers helped to make Cleveland’s three runs stand, as the Indians defeated the Chicago White Sox by a 3-1 final on a rare Friday afternoon start.
The Indians bullpen picked up the slack of the abbreviated Salazar start, who was limited by the same strict pitch count that has shortened his outings throughout the second half.
With Friday’s tenth straight win against the White Sox, the Indians move into a tie with the New York Yankees in the pursuit of an American League Wild Card birth. Both Cleveland and New York are one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second spot, with the Yankees and Rays both playing later in the day on Friday.
“Right now we’re on a roll and we have to keep it going,” said Nick Swisher. “We’re trying to make this playoff push and we have to keep winning ball games.”
The Indians missed a big opportunity right out of the gate in the first inning, when Michael Bourn and Swisher started off the game with a single and a walk. But despite throwing 31 pitches, Chicago starter Hector Santiago escaped unharmed, retiring the next three batters in order.
After walking leadoff hitter Jordan Danks to start his afternoon, Salazar also ran into some problems, as a one-out single to right by Alexei Ramirez put two Sox on base. But a strikeout of Adam Dunn and a groundout by Paul Konerko ended the threat.
After striking out a pair in the first and second innings, Salazar sandwiched three swinging strikeouts in the third around a pair of two-out singles by Marcus Semien and Ramirez.
Cleveland struck the scoreboard in the fourth after a leadoff single by Asdrubal Cabrera. After a first pitch pop up to second by Michael Brantley, Cabrera stole second during the at bat of Mike Aviles, who later moved the Indians shortstop to third base on a flyout to right. Swinging at a 1-1 pitch from Santiago, Drew Stubbs blooped a single to right field between the center and right fielders and the second baseman, scoring Cabrera from third and giving the Indians the first lead of the day.
Salazar, meanwhile, continued to work up a high pitch count quickly. Konerko drew nine pitches in a walk to lead off the fourth. After back to back strikeouts of Avisail Garcia and Conor Gillaspie, Dayan Viciedo singled to left and effectively ended Salazar’s afternoon early at the 78 pitch mark. Nick Hagadone relieved and retired Josh Phegley on a comebacker to the mound to end the threat.
“For the most part, [he] was really good,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Good life on his fastball. He worked ahead. I thought once he got ahead of some hitters, he threw some balls out of the zone. I don’t know if he was overamped, but he tried to throw it a little too much instead of just pitching.”
“Every time he takes the mound, you better eat your Wheaties,’ said Swisher. “He’s one of those guys that just blows cheese right out of the gate. For a guy like him, continue to work on that pitch count and getting a little deeper in the game, but man, he’s learning every start and he’s getting better and better.”
Salazar retired seven consecutive outs via strikeouts in his no-decision. He struck out nine batters in three and two-thirds innings on the day, all swinging, becoming the first Indians pitcher since at least 1916 to strike out nine batters in less than four innings on the mound. He did not allow a run, walked a pair, and gave up four singles, lowering his season ERA to 2.66. The groundout by Konerko in the first and a flyout by Garcia in the second were the only two outs retired by a means other than a strikeout by Salazar.
“We’re all excited. He’s a top of the rotation, potentially, type of pitcher,” said Francona. “He shows it now, you see it in smaller sample sizes. It’ll be bigger next year.”
“I feel like every time Salazar takes the mound, we just haven’t been scoring [any] runs for him,” Swisher said. “He’s been doing such a great job of keeping low runs on the other end. For us, these games come along. The shadows today were a huge factor.”
The Indians added to their lead in the fifth, as Santiago continued to struggle. A leadoff walk to Swisher was followed by a single to right by Jason Kipnis, ending Santiago’s afternoon. Reliever Jake Petricka entered the ball game for Robin Ventura and struck out Carlos Santana swinging. Designated hitter Ryan Raburn stepped in and delivered another blow to the White Sox this season, as his double to left scored Swisher and moved Kipnis to third. Raburn was lifted for pinch runner Jose Ramirez and Cabrera was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Brantley, whose sacrifice fly to left scored Kipnis to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Santiago (4-9) pitched four-plus innings. He was charged with three earned runs on six hits, walked three, and struck out three.
“We didn’t have a ton of runs, but we made their starter throw a lot of pitches and we got him out of the game,” said Francona. “Sometimes that’s the way you win. You get into a bullpen. We had chances to score, seemed like every inning he was pitching out of the stretch. Finally [Stubbs] blooped one in there and we got a run.”
The White Sox cut into the Indians lead in the bottom half of the fifth. Danks drew a five pitch walk off of Hagadone, ending the afternoon for the Cleveland lefty. Bryan Shaw (4-3) relieved and got the inning’s first out on a fielder’s choice grounder by Semien, who reached safely at first while Danks was forced at second. Ramirez moved Semien to second on a sacrifice and reached safely on Shaw’s error off the mound. Dunn followed with a fielder’s choice grounder to first, forcing Ramirez at second. With two outs, Konerko put the Sox on the board with a single to center, making their deficit 3-1.
The White Sox bullpen settled in, retiring eleven straight batters, beginning with the sacrifice fly by Brantley, until a leadoff walk in the ninth by Stubbs. Three different relievers combined to throw five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out five.
Chris Perez allowed two runners to reach with two outs in the ninth, but Konerko lifted a fly ball to Bourn in center to end the game and give the Tribe closer his 24th save of the season. Shaw earned the win with two innings of one-hit relief.
With his double, Raburn extended his hitting streak to six straight games. He has driven in a run in all six games and is hitting .471 with four doubles, three home runs, and 14 RBI during that span.
“He’s a big help to us,” said Francona. “He just missed the at bat before, he just got under one. He was mad at himself because he got a pitch to hit and he just got under it. He’s such a threat that it’s great for us.”
Game three between the Indians and White Sox will start at 7:10 PM on Saturday. Ubaldo Jimenez (11-9, 3.62 ERA) will start for Cleveland. He has a 1.94 ERA since the All-Star break. Andre Rienzo (2-1, 4.50) will take the mound for Chicago.
Follow along with all of the action on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.
Photo: David Banks/Getty Images