Salazar’s Struggles Continue as Tribe Sleeps Through Night; A’s 9, Indians 1
Bob Toth | On 24, Aug 2016
While some of you were sleeping, the Cleveland Indians’ bats were doing the same as Danny Salazar was tagged early and Oakland poured it on in a 9-1 Athletics win on Tuesday night.
The Indians offense managed just one run for the second straight night, but the bigger storyline was Salazar and his inability to command his pitches and the strike zone. In his second start since returning from the disabled list, he looked…better…marginally…compared to the first start, as he lasted longer in the game while it looked like the Cleveland coaching staff was going to force him to figure out his problems on the mound. Meanwhile, the batting order struggled against Oakland’s rookie left-hander Sean Manaea.
Oakland scored in the first with three runs riding a long ball to right field. Coco Crisp grounded out before Jake Smolinski singled to center. Danny Valencia singled to right, setting the stage for Khris Davis’ 33rd homer of the season. He had struck out in each of his last six at bats, including four times in the A’s loss to Cleveland on Monday.
After the Tribe went down in order for the second straight inning against Manaea, Salazar had to deal with an aggressive A’s bunch in the bottom half. Bruce Maxwell grounded out on his second pitch before Crisp sent his first pitch back into center field. Salazar escaped further harm on a strikeout and caught stealing to end the inning.
A double play ball, a common occurrence of late for the Indians, erased their first base runner of the night after Brandon Guyer walked to lead off the inning. Chris Gimenez walked after the twin killing off of the bat of Abraham Almonte, but Rajai Davis struck out looking. The A’s got back to work as Valencia doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch. Oakland’s slugger Davis walked and Alonso drove in Valencia with a sacrifice fly. Healy lined out for the second out before Muncy walked again. Pinder singled to center to drive home Davis to make the score 5-0.
Mike Napoli got the Indians’ first hit with two down in the fourth, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. Cleveland got a double the next frame as Guyer hit a gapper with two outs, but Almonte grounded weakly to third to end the Tribe’s at bats.
Davis reached base for the third straight plate appearance to lead off the fifth as Salazar got the early hook in a troubling start. Zach McAllister relieved and after a groundout gave up a double down the left field line to Healy to push the score to 6-0.
The Indians’ lone run came in the sixth as Gimenez homered to lead off the inning. He was the last Cleveland hitter to reach off of Manaea, who struck out four of the last six batters he faced in his six innings of work.
Oakland added three more in the eighth with the game already appearing well out of reach. Mike Clevinger came on in relief and gave up a double to Healy and single to Muncy before striking out Pinder. Maxwell doubled to plate a pair and would come around to score, after moving to third on an infield single by Crisp, on a force out at second off of the bat of Smolinski.
As was the case five times on the night, the Indians went down in order in their final trips to the plate as Chris Smith retired the side on a strikeout and a pair of grounders.
The Indians fell to 72-52 with the loss and 33-29 on the road. Their lead in the AL Central shrank to six and a half games over Detroit and seven and a half over Kansas City, as both clubs won on Tuesday night. Despite suffering the defeat, Cleveland held on to the top record in the AL as Texas dropped its third straight game.
The A’s snapped a three-game losing skid to improve to 54-72 on the year and pulled within seven games of the .500 mark at home at 29-36.
WHO BROKE DANNY?
Salazar (11-5, 3.90 ERA) once again did not have the full command of his weapons on the mound. He allowed hits in four of the five innings that he worked and had several lengthy innings. Whether it be a mechanical thing or a mental thing or a rust thing, he has failed to put his team in a position to win in each of his outings back from the disabled list.
He worked four-plus innings on Tuesday, allowing six runs on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts. He showed good velocity, but little else. He has gone from a Cy Young candidate to a major concern in the Indians rotation.
“I thought he was up with too many fastballs and because of that it didn’t really seem like they had to respect his off speed pitches,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “The hope is that he gets some repetition including side days and stuff and gets back to the Danny we saw in the first half.”
Oakland had a pair of firsts in the ball game. Shortstop Pinder’s RBI on his single in the third was the first run batted in of his career. The same could be said for the catcher Maxwell, whose double in the eighth drove in the first two runs of his MLB career.
HEALY HITS IN TEN STRAIGHT
The rookie Healy’s single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to a career-best ten games.
MANAEA MAKES HIMSELF AT HOME
Manaea (5-8, 4.53 ERA) proved to be too much for the Indians bats in the middle game of the series while showing why he was a first round draft pick in 2013. He worked seven innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out eight.
The win was his fifth of the season and all have come at home at Oakland Coliseum. He is 0-5 on the road with a 6.98 ERA. The 24-year-old left-hander has struck out an even 100 batters on the season, tops for all AL rookies.
THE AXMAN COMETH
Former Indians reliever John Axford earned himself a milestone when he took the mound against Cleveland in the eighth. The Indians were the only club in baseball that he had yet to pitch against in his eight-year career.
He worked a scoreless inning, allowing a single while striking out a batter.
It will be a quick turnaround for the two clubs as they play a 3:35 PM ET getaway day start on Wednesday afternoon. A pair of right-handers will match up, with Oakland sending Kendall Graveman (9-8, 4.09) to the mound, while Cleveland and Francona counter with Trevor Bauer (9-5, 3.88).
It will be Bauer’s second start against Oakland and third career appearance while he searches for his first career win versus the A’s. Graveman will be doing much the same, as he enters with a 0-2 record in three starts with a 3.38 ERA and 1.34 WHIP against Cleveland. One of those losses came earlier this season, when he allowed four runs (three earned) in six and one-third innings in Cleveland.
Photo: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images