Historical success tends to have a carryover effect when it comes to pitcher vs. batter matchups.
With a .333 (9-for-27) batting average against Danny Salazar entering play, it was no surprise to see Eric Hosmer conquer the defining moment of Friday’s contest as he launched a go-ahead two-run homer to pull ahead and stay ahead of the Indians by a score of 3-1 at Kauffman Stadium.
Edwin Encarnacion notched his fifth home run of the season and marked the lone source of production from the road nine.
Salazar starts strong before laboring through 4.2 innings
The diving changeup and electric fastball of Danny Salazar was still there, but a high pitch count spelled an early exit to the 27-year-old’s sixth appearance of 2017.
“I thought he had really good stuff. He found his velocity early, good breaking ball (and) changeup,” said manager Terry Francona to reporters. “Danny has a little bit of a tendency to get a couple outs and then there’s some baserunners and it turns into longer innings. You’re already into the fifth and he’s in the mid-90s.”
Salazar evaded trouble in the first four innings before leaving a first-pitch fastball over the plate to Hosmer for his third home run of the season. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway talked to his hard-throwing right-hander prior to the at-bat.
“It’s not just the pitches but it’s the idea that you’re showing hitters everything you have the third time through,” Francona said. “We wanted to throw a fastball high and out of the zone (to Hosmer) just to see if he’d chase. Obviously we didn’t do that.”
In addition to the unanswered blast, Hosmer registered a single and double to elevate his career average to .400 (12-for-30) vs. Salazar.
“That’s a huge swing with one swing of the bat,” said Francona of the homer.
A spark of offense was lit in the fourth inning when Encarnacion found an 0-1 slider out over the middle of the plate from Jason Hammel. The result was a 1-0 advantage, the Tribe’s only lead of the ballgame.
“I thought early [Hammel] established his breaking balls (and) slider and got us to chase,” Francona said. “Got the fastball by us but it was mainly because of I think his breaking ball.”
Similar to Hosmer, Encarnacion had a history of performing well against the opposing starter with a .389 (7-for-18) batting average vs. Hammel.
Fifteen straight batters were retired amid the contest to yield the 11th game in which Cleveland has scored two or fewer runs.
Bullpen loses scoreless streak
A string of 35 consecutive innings without surrendering an earned run came to an end on Friday as Alcides Escobar lined an RBI double to plate Jorge Bonifacio and charge Boone Logan with a score.
Nick Goody, Bryan Shaw and Dan Otero rounded out the evening with 2.2 frames of shutout ball.
Central Division update
Despite Wade Miley’s early departure due to an injured wrist, the Orioles got a strong effort from their bullpen to edge past the White Sox (15-13).
The weekend series continues on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. ET from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
RHP Josh Tomlin (2-3, 8.57) will toe the rubber with the intention of giving up less than three earned runs in a start for the first time this year.
LHP Jason Vargas (4-1, 1.42) comes in as one of the hottest pitchers in baseball as he has thrown five consecutive quality starts to begin the campaign.