CLEVELAND – A similar narrative for two drastically different starting pitchers yielded an interesting result.
All of Saturday’s offense took place in the first inning as the Indians edged past the Mariners by a score of 4-3 in a late afternoon affair at Progressive Field.
Danny Salazar allowed one run fewer than veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo in the first inning to earn the win despite a laborious start to the contest.
Barrage of first-inning scoring
The two teams combined for seven runs on six hits in their first time through the lineup to put the Indians ahead 4-3 in the middle of the second inning.
“I would’ve not thought that was going to happen,” said manager Terry Francona about the lone production in the contest. “We came back and answered which was huge.”
Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager opened the scoring with two home runs before Jose Ramirez blooped a bases-loaded double and Lonnie Chisenhall grounded a two-run single up the middle.
“I’m just trying to put the ball in play,” Ramirez said through the team’s translator Anna Bolton. “Sometimes I feel better batting in those situations.”
Salazar settles in
Aside from the crooked number allowed in the first, Salazar grinded out six innings of work.
“He came out and I thought he was throwing the ball pretty good,” said Francona. “You’re trying not to penalize a guy for what he did early. But when you have a high pitch count and you got lefties – he just reeled off about six outs.”
Salazar did not allow a hit after the first inning and retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced for an encouraging line of 6.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R/ER, 3 BB, 6 K (109 pitches, 76 strikes, 69.7%, six groundouts, two flyouts).
“They were starting real aggressive, swinging at the first pitch,” Salazar said. “I think every time I go out there I get better and better.”
“I’m healthy, that’s the main thing and I feel strong.”
Gallardo follows suit
Gallardo produced a similar outing in that he bounced back from a rough first with five scoreless frames. In that span, the 31-year-old surrendered three singles, none of which advanced past first base.
Seattle did not tally a base knock in support of Gallardo, Nick Vincent or Marc Rzepczynski after the second inning.
Miller and Allen help even series
As the one-run game approached the late innings, Francona decided to employ his high-leverage relievers in a situation that called for strikeouts.
Andrew Miller proved to be up for the task as he punched out four of the six hitters he faced en route to 1.2 shutout innings.
“In a situation like that where it’s a one-run game, you kind of have to pitch to the scoreboard,” said Francona. “You can see Andrew really compete. I mean his stuff is what it is, it’s good. But his level of competitiveness really rises as he goes. That’s fun to watch.”
Cody Allen did not have as sharp of a curveball in his save opportunity, but he set down all three hitters he faced to close out the ballgame in celebratory fashion.
Central Division update
The Tigers (11-12) bullpen fell victim to another late-inning debacle as Justin Wilson surrendered two go-ahead runs in the 10th to lose 6-4 to the front-running White Sox (13-9).
With rain in the forecast, the finale of the three-game set is tentatively scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday at Progressive Field.
RHP Josh Tomlin (1-3, 9.33) will look to extend his streak of two-or-fewer walks to 36 consecutive starts after registering a quality start against the Astros in the first game of the homestand.
RHP Chase De Jong (0-1, 5.79) is primed for his third major league appearance (first start), nearly two months after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for a pair of prospects.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.