Indians Leave Them Loaded in Ninth as Offense Falls Flat Again; Rangers 2, Indians 1
Bob Toth | On 28, Aug 2016
Cleveland loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning but could not push across the tying run as a strikeout and a weak fly out ended an ugly road trip for the Indians as they fell 2-1 to the Texas Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
Danny Salazar took the mound and was in need of a big performance after struggling for an extended length of time in the Indians rotation. He looked far more his former self than the more recent version, pitching deeper into the ball game and minimizing the damage. He showed that he still has work to do, drastically missing on some pitch locations throughout the day, but his end results kept the game close, which sometimes is all that can be asked of a starting pitcher.
His opponent on the day was Derek Holland, the Ohio native and southpaw who had given the Indians fits at times throughout his career. It would be more of the same for the Tribe, who managed a two-out single in the first by Francisco Lindor before slumping into a 0-for-12 stretch. Brandon Guyer ended that after being hit by a pitch in the fifth, but was erased trying to advance on a two-out ball in the dirt.
At that point in the afternoon, the Rangers had already built up their 2-0 lead. Salazar struck out four of the first eight batters that he faced before a full count walk by Elvis Andrus with one out in the third. Nomar Mazara struck out swinging and Andrus was caught stealing, but the call was overturned by replay and it would loom large as the very next pitch was singled into right field by Ian Desmond to give the Rangers the lead.
Another runner advancing proved to be the difference in the second run crossing the plate for the Rangers the next inning. Adrian Beltre walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Salazar. Jonathan Lucroy jumped on the next pitch and singled to center, driving in Beltre to make it 2-0.
Holland returned for the sixth with a two-run lead and allowed a leadoff single to Abraham Almonte, who stole second base before a check-swing comebacker from Chris Gimenez. The slumping Rajai Davis swung at the first pitch he saw and weakly flied to center, but Jason Kipnis delivered a clutch two-out single to right to score Almonte and cut the deficit in half at 2-1. Lindor singled to put two on, but Mike Napoli’s hard liner to left was snagged in the webbing by Carlos Gomez to end the inning.
Cleveland had its best scoring opportunity in the ninth against reliever Sam Dyson. Lindor singled to start the inning and stole second as Napoli struck out. Dyson then lost the strike zone, walking Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez on eight straight balls. Manager Terry Francona went to his bench, bringing on the left-handed hitting Tyler Naquin for the right-handed Guyer, but Naquin struck out swinging for the second out. After Dyson appeared to lose the zone again to the next batter, Almonte hacked at a 2-0 pitch and flied to center to end the ball game.
Salazar (11-6, 3.88 ERA) took the tough loss despite a much better effort on the mound for the Indians. Holland (6-6, 4.68) got his record back to even while Dyson earned his 29th save of the season.
The Indians (73-56) end their season series with the Rangers at just 2-5, the same mark as their disappointing results from their road trip through Oakland and Texas. Their lead over Detroit, however, holds at four and a half games with the Tigers loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
The Rangers (77-54) expanded on their lead in the American League, where they remain entrenched as the league’s top team.
Salazar was much, much better than he had been over his last handful of starts and definitely gave the impression that he had figured some things out on the mound. While his location at times was not crisp, he far more resembled the pitcher from earlier this season when he was a Cy Young candidate in the American League.
He worked five and one-third innings in his start, allowing two runs on five hits. He walked a pair and struck out ten Rangers hitters.
BULLPEN DOES ITS JOB AGAIN
The Indians bullpen tandem of Dan Otero and Mike Clevinger allowed just one base runner to reach in two and two-thirds innings, allowing the Tribe the chance to at least attempt to get back into the close game.
Otero faced five batters in an inning and two-thirds. He got a double play ball to end the sixth inning and issued a walk in the seventh. Clevinger came on for the eighth inning and threw a perfect and aggressive inning, retiring all three batters on a total of eleven pitches, including nine strikes.
Guyer was plunked for the third time in the series on Sunday, when he pushed his MLB-leading total to 28. The next closest player in the AL (Chicago’s Adam Eaton) has half of that total. Guyer’s totals are also six more than the next closest National League player on the leaderboard (Miami’s Derek Dietrich).
He is now tied with Don Baylor (28 – 1987) for the second-most hit by pitches in a season in American League history. He trails only Baylor’s 35 with Boston in 1986 for the most in league history.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OFFENSE?
For the fourth time in seven games on the road trip, the Indians offense provided the starting rotation with just one run of support. In two other games, the offense was shut out. With the exception of the drastically different 12 runs scored on Friday night, the Tribe’s offense looked like it never packed its bags to participate in the road trip.
HOLLAND HOLDS DOWN TRIBE
Holland gave the Rangers a quality start and continued his strong play against the Indians. He worked six innings, giving up just one run on four hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out five in the contest.
The 29-year-old is now 5-1 in nine career starts against Cleveland.
ODOR’S HAT TRICK
Rougned Odor struck out in each of his first three at bats on the day to earn the hat trick. In his final at bat, he grounded to second.
GET ME HOME
The Indians return home to start another lengthy homestand over the next week and a half. They will start first by hosting the Minnesota Twins beginning Monday night. Trevor Bauer (9-6, 3.88) will throw for the Tribe, while yet another southpaw, Hector Santiago (0-4, 10.89), will counter for the Twins while looking for his first win back in the AL Central since returning to the division in a trade deadline deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
Game time at Progressive Field is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Monday.
Photo: Rick Yeatts/Getty Images