McAllister Comes Up Big in Game 1; Indians 2, Padres 0
Craig Gifford | On 09, Apr 2014
The Cleveland Indians needed a strong start from Zach McAllister in Game 1 of Wednesday’s double header with the San Diego Padres.
A strong start is exactly what the Tribe got as McAllister tossed seven and two-thirds innings of shutout ball. He needed to be on his A-game as San Diego’s pitching was just as strong in 2-0 Indians victory at Progressive Field. It was the Tribe’s second straight win, having defeated the Padres 8-6 on Tuesday.
McAllister’s performance allowed the Indians to minimize usage of its bullpen arms in case they are needed in Game 2. The Cleveland right-hander was magnificent in striking out seven Padres batters, while walking none and surrendering just five hits.
“He was good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of his starting pitcher. “He came out of the bullpen today with his fastball-change up combination working really well. It’s one of the better games I think I’ve ever seen him have. The fastball is his bet pitch and when you combine that fastball with change up to go with it, that made him really tough today.”
One of McAllister’s better games came off the heals of a forgettable one. In his first outing of the season, in Oakland, he allowed three earned runs in four innings and never could get into any sort of rhythm.
With Trevor Bauer making a spot start in the second game, Francona will have most of his relief options available for Game 2.
“Any time you have 18 innings to play, it’s great not getting deep into the bullpen the first game,” the Tribe skipper said.
Cleveland used just two relievers in Wednesday’s first game. One of those was Cody Allen, who face one batter and struck him out on three pitches. The other was closer John Axford, who may be the lone reliever unable to go for the Indians in the second game.
Axford, who closed out the game for his fourth save in as many chances, walked a tightrope in the ninth inning as San Diego had runners on second and third with just one out. Axford did not help matters with a wild pitch that advanced both runners. However, Cleveland’s closer worked a strike out and fly out to get out of the jam and remain perfect in save situations.
“Axford made it a little interesting, but he get them out,” Francona said.
The Indians hitters were making things interesting all afternoon, as Padres starter Eric Stults matched scoreboard zeros with McAllister for the first five innings.
Cleveland finally broke through in sixth. With one out, Nick Swisher reached base on throwing error by Padres third baseman Alexi Amarista. As is often the case, errors can come back to hurt and this one hurt the visitors in a big way. Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis followed with a two-run home run.
The Indians’ slugger broke the scoreless tie on what was his first home run of the season and fifth and sixth RBI. It continued a strong home stand for Kipnis who began it last Thursday signing a five-year contract extension with Cleveland.
That was all the fireworks for the game as the Indians had just five hits of their own. Ryan Raburn was the only player for Cleveland to have more than one hit, collecting a double and single.
The Indians did have two other opportunities to widen the gap with the Padres, but could not get that clutch hit.
In the second inning Carlos Santana led off with a single. One out later, Michael Brantley collected a hit and Yan Gomes walked to load the bases with just one out. However, Mike Aviles fouled out and David Murphy grounded out to end the threat.
After Kipnis’ homer in the sixth, the Indians also threatened for more tallies. Santana followed the bomb with a walk and advanced to third on Raburn’s double. Again, the Indians had runners as far as second and third with one out. However, Brantley and Gomes both struck out to ensure the game would remain tight.
The second game of today’s double header will wrap up a six game home stand in which the Tribe is now 3-2.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images