One day after hurling nine innings of two-run ball, the Cleveland Indians pitching staff found their groove against the defending World Series champions.
Seven Tribe pitchers allowed one run en route to a 1-1 tie with the Chicago Cubs on Sunday afternoon from Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.
Unlike Game 7, the WS rematch did not have any rain delays or extra inning drama.
Since the third inning of yesterday’s battle vs. the Cincinnati Reds, Mickey Callaway’s pitching unit has posted a zero in 15 of their last 16 innings pitched.
Shawn Morimando surrendered one run in his two frames of work, but the six-pack comprising of Danny Salazar, Nick Goody, Kyle Crockett, Tyler Olson, Hoby Milner and Josh Martin were in command of their opposition.
Salazar set the tone early by fanning three batters and allowing two baserunners in his two innings. The 27-year-old mixed fastballs, changeups and even a few curveballs to keep Chicago hitters off-balanced. Salazar’s trio of strikeouts came against Jeimer Candelario, Albert Almora and Jemile Weeks.
“He made some good adjustments,” said manager Terry Francona to reporters. “I thought he stayed in his delivery and I thought the ball came out of his hand pretty good.”
During Salazar’s start, defensive specialist Roberto Perez played as if he was in mid-season form by gunning down Jason Heyward on an accurate throw to second base.
“Just trying to get ready for the season,” said Salazar. “It’s better to take it easy and do your work.”
Poor offensive performances
There was little to write home about for both clubs on the offensive side of the ball. Cleveland batted .107 (3-28) with hits from Tyler Naquin (double), Daniel Robertson (single) and Giovanny Urshela.
The lone scoring of the contest came courtesy of Carlos Santana’s RBI groundout to plate Naquin in the top of the fourth inning. The Cubs evened the score in the home half of the frame thanks to Almora’s walk, Weeks’ double and Matt Szczur’s RBI single on a sharply hit line drive up the middle.
Both Francona and Joe Maddon agreed to end the game in a draw due to limited pitching availability.
The Indians will return to Goodyear Park on Monday for a 3 PM ET matchup against the Texas Rangers.
For the first time since his devastating right hand injury on Sept. 17, Carlos Carrasco will toe the rubber opposite his counterpart Chi Chi Gonzalez.
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.