CLEVELAND – Clearing the fence came early and often for baseball’s second best home run hitting team.
Tampa Bay added five blasts to their rising total of 61 this season to pull ahead and hang on for a 6-4 victory over the Indians on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Danny Salazar fell victim to four of the aforementioned long balls before the offense went silent in the later stages of the game.
A span of three home runs in five at-bats transpired between the second and third innings as Salazar surrendered solo shots to Colby Rasmus, Derek Norris and Corey Dickerson.
“It is frustrating,” said Salazar. “They looked so comfortable against me today. The first inning was kind of like, ‘I got this.’ But then after that, they got just too comfortable and they are really an aggressive team.”
Despite a clean fourth inning of work, Salazar made another location mistake to Dickerson on a fourth solo home run to dead center field, the most bombs ever charged to his ledger – 5+ IP, 6 H, 5 R/ER, 2 BB, 9 K (90 pitches, 62 strikes, 68.9%, five groundouts, one flyout).
“Vexing,” manager Terry Francona said in regards to Salazar’s performance. “He has good enough stuff to punch out nine. Gives up six hits, four of them are home runs.”
“When he made a mistake, he really paid for it.”
Shawn Armstrong made his first appearance since his latest call-up from Triple-A and allowed a two-run homer to Tim Beckham to put the score at 6-1 heading to the home half of the sixth.
The Indians did not back down and picked at their three-run deficit courtesy of a Jason Kipnis RBI double, Carlos Santana RBI groundout and Edwin Encarnacion two-run homer to trim the margin to two runs in the sixth, 6-4.
“It is good for him,” said Francona about Encarnacion’s 2-for-4 night. “He stayed on a pitch and hit it to right just because you can get yourself in trouble early, especially the way [Jake Odorizzi’s] changing speeds and he stayed on it and hit it to right.”
Odorizzi departed to six innings of four-run ball before the Rays bullpen put the home nine's bats to sleep for the remaining three frames of the contest.
Jose Alvarado and Alex Colome held the Tribe to a .100 (1-for-10) clip to earn the hold and save respectively.
Amidst the offensive lull, Zach McAllister, Boone Logan and Mike Clevinger put together three scoreless innings of relief with two hits and seven strikeouts.
“[McAllister’s] been tremendous,” Francona said. “It’s multiple innings and he’s gaining confidence by the day, as he should. I mean he’s throwing the ball really well.”
Aside from a putout in center field, Bradley Zimmer did not have an ideal major league debut as he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts out of the ninth slot in the batting order.
A quick turnaround is in store for both teams as they conclude their three-game series on Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. from Progressive Field.
RHP Josh Tomlin (2-4, 5.87) will look to continue his string of solid starts after surrendering two runs over his last 15 innings pitched. The right-hander has pitched into the sixth inning in all six of his appearances vs. Tampa Bay.
RHP Alex Cobb (3-3, 3.65) is scheduled to oppose the Indians for the fifth time in his career as he comes in with a 2-2 record and 3.57 ERA. Most notably, Cobb held the Cleveland offense at bay with 6.2 shutout innings in the 2013 AL Wild Card Game.