By Jordan Bastian and August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- Danny Salazar turned and watched the fourth pitch he threw on Sunday sail over left field, caroming off the pole down the line for a home run by Twins leadoff man Brian Dozier. That was all the Tribe's starter allowed Minnesota to have in a dominant effort that led the Indians to an 8-2 win in the series finale at Progressive Field.
"I think he got upset with himself, and we saw what happened," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He really kicked it in gear, and besides velocity, his changeup, his breaking ball, he really had everything working. And it was nice, we gave him a little cushion. That's a nice way to pitch, too."
Salazar limited Minnesota to just that lone first-inning hit, piling up 11 strikeouts (matching a career high) in seven innings. The hard-throwing right-hander issued no walks and retired the final 21 batters he faced, improving to 4-1 on the year.
"I think the more frustrated you get sometimes," Twins manager Paul Molitor said, "it just increases how much you try. And sometimes that doesn't work when you're going against a guy who's really in a groove. The velocity seemed to pick up. He was throwing harder at the end than he was in the beginning.
"His changeup was disappearing, especially on the left-handed hitters. He was tough, no doubt about that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Starting strong: For the third time in three games this series, the Twins got on the board in the first inning. They didn't waste any time getting it done, either. Salazar had thrown three fastballs to Dozier, getting him in a 1-2 count. Then, he threw one more fastball and Dozier hit it off the foul pole in left field. It was the eighth leadoff homer of Dozier's career, in 159 starts.
"He kind of cruised after the leadoff homer by Dozier," Molitor said of Salazar. "He's obviously throwing the ball well. The numbers back that up. And today he just kind of continued what he's been doing. We just couldn't generate anything."
Strikeout streak: Following Dozier's first-inning blast, Salazar settled down swiftly and overwhelmed the Twins' lineup the rest of the way. During one overpowering stretch between the fifth and sixth innings, Salazar struck out six batters in a row.
"Right now, I'm trying to be aggressive every pitch," Salazar said. "When I'm leaving the fastball up, I'm just trying to make that adjustment, get it down again." More >
Lon gone: Kipnis opened the scoring for the Indians in the fourth with an RBI triple to right field and Santana followed with an RBI single. Two batters later, Chisenhall broke things open by pulling a 2-2 pitch from May deep to right field for a three-run home run. The blast (Chisenhall's third of the season) capped off a five-run outburst and gave Cleveland a commanding 6-1 lead.
"That was a big one," Francona said of the home run, "because we had some chances, and it looked like we were swinging it pretty good and going to stay at them, but we didn't have a ton to show for it. And we [scored] most of our runs with two outs. That was a big home run."
"That's very nice. I texted my mom back and forth this morning, so I'll give her a call probably on the way home. It's fun for her when I'm successful, period. But it does make it a little sweeter on Mother's Day." -- Murphy, on his four-hit performance More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Salazar is one of just three Indians pitchers since at least 1914 to enjoy an outing with one or no hits allowed, no walks and at least 11 strikeouts in at least seven innings. Josh Tomlin also accomplished the feat in a one-hitter against Seattle on June 28, 2014, and Len Barker did so in his perfect game against the Blue Jays on May 15, 1981.
Prior to this year, the Indians had only one game (against the Philadelphia Athletics on Sept. 13, 1936) during which their pitching staff had at least 16 strikeouts with two or fewer hits allowed. Cleveland has now done that twice this season: Sunday against the Twins and on April 9 against the Astros.
Already with one stolen base earlier in the game, Kipnis attempted to steal second base in the fifth inning. Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki threw Kipnis out on the play to end the inning, but Francona challenged the call because it looked as though the runner might have touched the base just before shortstop Danny Santana applied the tag. After a review, the initial out ruling stood as called.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: The Twins travel to Detroit to open a three-game series vs. the Tigers on Tuesday at 6:08 p.m. CT. The Tigers swept the Twins in a three-game series to begin the season and took two out of three the second time they met. Kyle Gibson (3-2, 2.97 ERA) carries a 17-inning scoreless streak into his start for Minnesota.
Indians: The Indians will host the National League Central-leading Cardinals on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. ET in the opener of a three-game Interleague series at Progressive Field. Tribe right-hander Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 4.71 ERA) will take the mound, following a win in his last start (seven innings, three runs, six strikeouts) against the Royals.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.