CLEVELAND – Scoring in the late innings is a necessity to competing against even the lowest levels of competition.
The Indians have not lived up to this belief over the first three games of their homestand.
Kansas City rolled to a 5-2 victory on Saturday late afternoon thanks to the erratic command of Danny Salazar and another strong effort from the back end of their bullpen.
Cleveland has yet to score after the fifth inning at Progressive Field dating back to May 17 and now holds an 8-13 (.381) home record, still the worst in the American League.
Salazar works past first inning chaos
Jason Kipnis committed an error on the first at-bat of the ballgame, a costly play that would lead to an unearned run on Salvador Perez’s sacrifice fly. Nevertheless, Salazar worked out of a bases-loaded jam with one out to limit the damage.
“That was huge. When you come out of the first inning 1-1 – after the way the game started – you feel pretty good about it,” said manager Terry Francona. “But, a little bit like yesterday, we score a couple after the third inning, and then the rest of the game, nothing.”
Mixed in between the first-inning scoring was the ejection of Eric Hosmer and manager Ned Yost, both arguing over a check-swing strike three.
Salazar went on to face plenty of traffic on the base paths as he walked five batters and paid the price for 5.1 innings of four-run ball.
“It’s frustrating,” Salazar said. “I just continue to work on the walks and focusing more on the guy at home plate. I thought today for me it was huge getting out of the first inning.”
The right-hander’s two free passes in the sixth frame led to a trio of runs, all of which were inherited runs scored off Boone Logan and Nick Goody.
“That’s something that I’ve been working on, staying calm on the mound, trying to take my time and make my pitches,” said Salazar. “I come down and make one pitch good, and then the next one I’m rushing again. That’s what’s happening right now. But I’m getting there. I’m going to keep working.”
Mike Moustakas rounded out the opposition's scoring with a solo shot off Shawn Armstrong in the ninth, his 13th of the campaign.
Bats break scoring barrier, fall into funk
Francisco Lindor homered and Jason Kipnis lined an RBI single to pull the home nine ahead in the third, 2-1. One inning later, Kipnis came inches away from a grand slam on a foul ball down the right field line – the closest the Tribe would get to scoring for the remainder of the contest.
“It seems like, at times, we get runners on with two outs,” said Francona. “Then you have to get a hit as opposed to giving yourself a lot of opportunities. When you don’t cash in, it’s not that big (of a) deal because you’ll have the next inning, you’ll have another opportunity. When you don’t, it’s really glaring.”
Once again, the Tribe showed an ability to score past the third inning as they left 10 men on base and batted 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
“I think it is frustrating,” Francona said. “When the frustration starts to get in the way of higher performing, as a team, that’s not good.”
Central Division update
The Twins (26-19) got back in the win column over Tampa Bay while the White Sox (22-25) took Game 1 of their doubleheader against Detroit.
Barring any weather delays, the series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 1:10 p.m. from Progressive Field.
RHP Josh Tomlin (2-6, 6.70) will toe the rubber for the first time since allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 6.1 innings last Monday in Cincinnati. A win would give the 32-year-old 10 career victories over the Royals.
LHP Danny Duffy (4-3, 2.92) has pitched at least six innings with two or fewer runs charged to his ledger in eight of his 10 starts this season. The southpaw has the seventh best ERA (3.10) in daytime outings since 2011 (minimum of 30 starts).