The Cleveland Indians knew the bullpen could get tested when starting pitcher Danny Salazar returned from the disabled list on Tuesday to face off against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, but they got more work than initially anticipated.
Over just two-thirds of an inning, Salazar allowed one hit, two walks and four earned runs. However, in relief, the Indians utilized seven pitchers out of the bullpen, who spread out nine hits and three walks over 8.1 innings of work in a 9-4 win over the White Sox.
“They take a lot of pride in it anyway, but on a night like (this), they pretty much know everybody’s going to pitch and if there’s a hiccup along the way, you’ve probably got a pretty good chance of losing,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
“When Nick (Goody) came in, he had a tough time finding the plate, but he got out of it. Then, from there, they did a great job. Otero, McAllister, Olson ate up some outs that kind of got us back where we weren’t trying to get too much out of Shaw. I think Olson’s outs were as big as anybody’s.”
Cleveland Indians face Chicago White Sox in AL Central battle in Windy City
Like Salazar, Goody was hampered by control issues and surrendered a pair of walks. However, he found a way out of the first inning and turned the ball over to Dan Otero in the second.
Otero allowed two hits, but struck out one hitter and threw two innings of scoreless baseball on the way to his third win of the season. Then, Zach McAllister came into the game and struck out three batters over 1.2 innings of work.
Left-hander Tyler Olson came on in the sixth inning, and rather than being limited to a lefty-lefty matchup role, he collected four outs with one strikeout and one hit allowed. Olson was credited with his fourth hold of the season.
“You know, sometimes, guys get chances,” Francona said. “Nobody wants to see Boone (Logan) ever get hurt, but Ole got a chance and he’s kind of running with it. He’s become really reliable.”
The Indians’ win over the White Sox extended their winning streak to an MLB-best 13 games, and also, helped them inch closer to their second consecutive American League Central Division Championship.
Coupled with the Minnesota Twins’ 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Indians’ “Magic Number” to clinch the AL Central Division dropped down to 14. Currently, the Indians hold an 11-game edge over the second-place Twins.
And if the Indians hope to make another deep postseason run, just as they did a year ago, the bullpen will have to play a big role down the home stretch of the season.
“That just shows the kind of depth that we have,” catcher Yan Gomes said. “Otero has done it several times. It’s almost like he’s the go-to guy when something like this happens. He gave us some good innings, but it’s not just him. Everyone came and did their job.
“They know what they need to do. They know their jobs, and they know our offense, right now, is kicking on all cylinders. They give us a couple good innings, and we’ll score some runs. You get our offense going, and we’ll score some runs. It almost gets to the point like, ‘Who’s going to get the win?’ Whoever did, that win goes to all of them.”