The Cleveland Indians were hoping Danny Salazar’s return to the starting rotation would yield positive results, but his first start in more than two weeks did not go well, nor did it last long against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field Tuesday night.
Out of the lineup because of right elbow inflammation, Salazar lasted just two-thirds of an inning and surrendered four runs and two walks in the Indians’ 9-4 win over their American League Central Division rivals from Chicago, but the team is confident he will return to form in short order.
“The good news, the good sign of it was his arm obviously feels good because he was firing it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He just had no idea where it was going. He had no feel for his changeup, and he was erratic with his fastball. Shoot, you look up and there was one hit and four runs, so we’ll sit down and kind of map out what’s next for him.”
The Indians got the offense rolling early with three runs in the top of the first inning, but, the White Sox scored four times against Salazar in the bottom of the frame.
Third baseman Yolmer Sanchez led off the game with a four-pitch walk, and later, stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error charged to Indians catcher Yan Gomes. Designated hitter Jose Abreu drove in Chicago’s first run of the game with a groundout to second base.
Clean-up hitter Avisail Garcia followed with a walk, and then, catcher Rob Brantly was hit by a pitch, which put two runners on for first baseman Matt Davidson. Despite being down in the count, 1-2, Davidson found a pitch he liked from Salazar and smashed it over the wall in center field for a three-run homer, which drove the Indians starter from the game.
“In the bullpen, it was fine,” Salazar said on the “Indians Live” postgame show. “When I was throwing in the bullpen, I was feeling good, throwing hard, commanding my fastball, but once I stepped in the game, it was different. I lost my release point, but I’ll get it for the next start.”
While Salazar struggled against the White Sox, the Indians found a way to extend their winning streak to 13 straight games, which is the longest such run in Major League Baseball this season.
An AL All-Star in 2016, Salazar is 5-6 with a 4.66 earned run average in 19 games, including 17 starts, this season. Over 92.2 innings of work, Salazar has allowed 90 hits, 48 earned runs, 14 home runs and 40 walks, but has struck out 129 batters.
“It’s a good sign that he’s healthy,” Gomes said. “If you’re throwing 99, I don’t know if you’re going to say you’re not healthy. A guy like Danny, when he’s consistent, we want him to go out there and throw as hard as you can because when you see him rearing back so many times, it’s almost like you can tell he’s going a little too fast.
“It showed a little bit, but I know he’ll bounce back. He’s got tremendous heart. He’s got tremendous stuff. He’s not going to sit back and just pout. I know he’ll be right back on wanting the ball again.”