CLEVELAND -- The home run ball was very, very good to the Tampa Bay Rays against Cleveland Indians starter Danny Salazar and right-handed reliever Shawn Armstrong in the second of a three-game series at Progressive Field.
All six of Tampa Bay’s (20-22) runs came via the home run, four of which were off of Salazar and one two-run blast against Armstrong, and that surge in power led to a 6-4 victory over the Indians (20-18) in front of the home faithful.
The Rays got on the board and took a 1-0 lead over the Indians when left fielder Colby Rasmus took a 1-0 pitch from Salazar over the wall in right-center field after first baseman Logan Morrison and right fielder Steven Souza Jr. struck out swinging to start the inning.
Prior to Rasmus’ home run, Salazar had set down five straight Rays, four of which were erased with swinging strike threes.
The Rays led off the top of the third inning back-to-back home runs, and that extended their advantage to 3-0.
Catcher Derek Norris belted a 1-0 offering from Salazar over the wall in left field, and then, designated hitter Corey Dickerson smashed the first pitch he saw out of the park to the seats in right.
Although the Indians got a run back in the bottom of the third inning when second baseman Jason Kipnis doubled home catcher Yan Gomes, who himself doubled to start the frame, the Rays once again extended their lead in the top of the fifth.
On a 2-0 pitch from Salazar, Dickerson smacked his second home run of the game to center field. Dickerson dropped the barrel of the bat onto the fastball and swatted it beyond a row of trees next to the bullpen and into Heritage Park, more than 440 feet away from home plate.
Souza Jr. led off the top of the sixth inning with a double off the base of the ball in right field, and came around to score just two batters later when shortstop Tim Beckham drove a 1-1 pitch from Armstrong over the wall in center field for his seventh blast of the season.
The Indians brought across three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when first baseman Carlos Santana hit an RBI groundout to first base and drove in shortstop Francisco Lindor, who singled to center field to start the frame.
Then, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run home run to center field that drove in left fielder Michael Brantley, who singled to center after Lindor reached base safely.
Despite striking out nine batters, Salazar allowed five earned runs, six hits and two walks over five innings of work against the Rays.
Making his Major League debut Tuesday night, Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer struck out swinging in all three of his at-bats.