Salazar maintains strong start to season

Indians righty improves to 2-0 with 0.79 ERA after stifling Rays over 6 IP with 9 K's

Salazar maintains strong start to season

ST. PETERSBURG -- Aggression and deception were keys for Indians right-hander Danny Salazar on Thursday in six impressive innings, as the Indians took the rubber game in their three-game series against the Rays, 6-0.

By mixing his fastball and changeup early in counts, he stymied Tampa Bay's offense during an afternoon when he allowed three hits and three walks, to go along with nine strikeouts.

"There was certainly a lot of mixing my fastball and changeup for first pitch," Salazar said.

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Salazar improved to 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA after two starts this season. He got the better of Rays right-hander Chris Archer, who fell to 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA.

Salazar threw 104 pitches, 67 for strikes. His pitch count was similar to the one posted in his season debut against the White Sox last Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, where he threw 94 pitches in 5 1/3 innings.

"His pitch count was almost identical to that game in Chicago," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

"He kept them off the scoreboard, and we haven't been in the bullpen a ton."

Salazar's day included the unique scene of him throwing in the bullpen to the side of the left-field line between innings before he took the mound for the sixth. He said the extra work was done to keep his edge during the top half of the inning.

"I was trying to stay loose, trying not to cool down," Salazar said. "I saw Archer throwing. I saw the pitches he had. And I was like, 'OK, maybe at some point they're going to put him out of the game now.' So I had to stay loose and maybe go to the bullpen to throw a few pitches."

Added Francona: "That was a long inning, and you're not allowed to throw on the side. So he ran out there real quick. It's probably one of the few places where you can do that."

Overall, Salazar said he gained momentum from his start.

"If you work hard, and every time you go out there you try to give 100 percent," he said, "it doesn't matter if you are throwing a ball, and then you come next pitch and are throwing hard and try to execute that pitch -- that is going to make you feel more confident."

Andrew Astelford is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.