Player of the Game
Don't be worried by Danny Salazar's 3.2 innings pitched today, as he shut out the White Sox during that time and struck out nine. Salazar was on a strict pitch count and was pulled from the game at just about 80 pitches. Because September Call-Ups have expanded the Indians bullpen to excess, the Indians are able to use Salazar in a manner that is best for his progression and to maximize his output to help the team win. He definitely deserved the award as no offensive players stood out and his 9 strike outs in under four innings were an accomplishment not met by an Indian in the past 90 years.
Danny Salazar has been on a strike out tear of late, with 17 over his last 7.2 innings across two games. While it is still very early in his career, he is starting to look like something special. His K/9 rate currently sits at 12.1, the best ever by an Indians starter who pitched at least 40 innings. While this rate will almost certainly drop as his innings add up, it is good to note that there has never been a player to match that rate at the beginning of his career, just to fizzle out. The two other starters with a K/9 above nine were Sam McDowell and Herb Score, quite possibly the two greatest strike out pitchers in team history. An interesting side note is that Corey Kluber currently ranks fourth, with 8.2 strike outs per nine innings, making it look like the Indians will have a dominant rotation for years to come.
It wasn't the slugfest that last night's game was, but the Indians played a little small ball to score just enough to keep ahead of Chicago, scoring once in the fourth and twice in the fifth. Drew Stubbs had the RBI single in the fourth while Ryan Raburn (double) and Michael Brantley (sacrifice fly) added the runs in the fifth.
Michael Bourn provided some great help to Chris Perez when he was trying to nail down the save in the ninth. Bourn robbed Jordan Danks of a home run hit to left center. The Indians came into the inning with just a two run lead and a solo home run to lead things off would have made things increasingly difficult for Perez.
With the win, the Indians gain a half game on the Rays and Rangers which could increase to a full game depending on the other teams outcomes tonight. The Indians will move into a tie with the Yankees for at least the next few hours.
Carlos Carrasco would have been a great option for the Indians to use when Salazar came out in the third inning, but he has been unavailable for the last four games while dealing with a personal issue.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 3 – Chicago White Sox 1