Created on Friday, 12 July 2013 Written by Jim Ingraham JIngraham@News-Herald.com @jitribeinsider,writer
What the Indians were looking for in Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco they may have found in Danny Salazar.
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar throws to first base to try and get Toronto Blue Jays' Rajai Davis out in the third inning of a baseball game, Thursday, July 11, 2013, in Cleveland. Davis made it back in time and was safe. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
A pitcher who can throw strikes, get outs and win games.
“That kid has special stuff. He has a very bright future,” said Indians manager Terry Francona after Salazar exploded onto the major-league scene with one of the most impressive major-league debuts by an Indians starting pitcher in several years.
Salazar took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and struck out more batters in his major-league debut than any Tribe pitcher in almost half a century as the Indians beat Toronto, 4-2.
Asked about the confidence with which the 23-year-old right-hander rolled through his six innings of work, Francona said, “He should be confident. If I could throw like that I’d be confident, too.”
This is what you call turning a spot start into a splash start.
Salazar was called up from Columbus to make a spot start, and he couldn’t have made a bigger splash. In his major-league debut, he:
-- Struck out five of the first eight batters he faced.
-- Retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced, striking out almost half of them.
-- Held Toronto to one run on two hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings.
“From the first pitch he threw he had great poise and he attacked the zone with above average pitches across the board,” said Francona, who could barely suppress the kind of smile a manager flashes when he’s witnessed the arrival on his roster of a game-changer.
In the combined 10 spot starts Bauer and Carrasco made, they were 1-6 with a 7.63 ERA.
In Salazar’s one spot start, he was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA.
Now you know why Francona was smiling so much. All of a sudden, the impact starting pitcher the Indians would like to add to their rotation at the trade deadline might already be in the organization.
For now, though, it’s back to Columbus. Salazar was seen packing his equipment bag with the Clippers’ logo on the side following the game. He’s going back to Class AAA, but it may not be for long.
“It’s their decision,” he said. “I know they’ll call me back in the future.”
Probably in the near future.
Opposing managers have commented in the past that the radar gun figures on display on the right-field message board at Progressive Field are probably inaccurate, by 2 to 3 mph on the high side. So when Salazar came out in the first inning throwing 97 and went up to 99 later in the game, the actual clocking might have been a few ticks below that.
But don’t tell that to the Toronto hitters, who had a hard time catching up to whatever Salazar was throwing.
The seven strikeouts by Salazar are the most by an Indians pitcher in his major-league debut since Luis Tiant struck out 11 in a four-hit, 3-0 shutout in Yankee Stadium on July 19, 1964.
“He has an unbelievable arm. He challenged people, and he got us back in the dugout quick,” said Tribe left fielder Michael Brantley.
Asdrubal Cabrera’s first-inning home run off R.A. Dickey gave the Tribe a 1-0 lead. It looked as if that might be enough for Salazar. The only base runner he allowed in the first five innings came on a walk to Rajai Davis in the third inning.
Salazar didn’t give up a hit until Josh Thole singled leading off the sixth inning. Thole later scored the tying run on a double by Jose Bautista.
The Indians took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth by scoring two runs on just one hit, thanks to some sloppy defense by the Blue Jays. Lonnie Chisenhall’s RBI single was the only hit in the inning.
The Indians scored a run in the eighth inning when Bautista, the right fielder, played what should have been a flyout by Carlos Santana into an RBI triple.
Chris Perez pitched the ninth and although he gave up a walk, two hits and a run, he picked up his 11th save.
The talk after the game wasn’t just about how Salazar threw but about how he acted, the poise and confidence with which he pitched.
“I was a little nervous warming up in the bullpen, but once the game started I was fine,” he said. “I’ve been preparing for this moment for seven years, ever since I signed with the Indians.”
Clearly it was worth the wait.
For Salazar, and for the Indians.