By Jordan Bastian and Jeffrey Flanagan
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
CLEVELAND -- Danny Salazar entered this season as a potential breakout candidate for the Indians. On Friday night, the hard-throwing right-hander continued his torrid start to the season, firing 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 7-1 win over the Royals at Progressive Field.
"That was some dynamic pitching right there," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Salazar. "Throwing 97 [mph] and then that splitter. He was tough."
Backed by a career night for third baseman Jose Ramirez, who logged a personal-best five RBIs in a three-hit showing, Salazar struck out nine and scattered four hits. With his performance, Salazar notched his third win of the year and lowered his ERA to 1.91 through six outings.
"That was his best start," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He had good stuff from start to finish and he had all of his pitches. He was really letting it go, reached back for more when he needed it. That was an impressive start."
On the other side of the equation, Royals righty Yordano Ventura labored for his second consecutive outing. In four innings, Ventura allowed five runs on nine hits. Mike Napoli delivered a pair of RBIs off the righty and Ramirez delivered three more on a bases-loaded double in a four-run outburst in the third.
Ventura now has 11 walks in his last two games.
"Things just aren't coming out the way they should," Ventura said of his release point. "There's nothing I can do but to get together with [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland] and get back to work."
Added Yost, "He's just barely missing. He's not crazy wild. It's a combination of not getting some calls and just missing off the plate or missing down. Or just missing up. It's not like he's all over the place."
Over his last two starts, Ventura has surrendered 10 runs on nine hits with more than twice as many walks (11) as strikeouts (four) in eight combined innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Doubling up: Francona has tried to find ways to keep the versatile Ramirez in the lineup with regularity. The stocky switch-hitter showed why again vs. the Royals. With the bases loaded in the third, Ramirez sent a pitch from Ventura to left-center for a three-run double. In the fifth, Ramirez doubled again -- this time off reliever Brian Flynn -- to knock in two more runs for a 7-0 advantage.
"I'm really thankful to Tito for believing in me, and giving me the opportunity," said Ramirez, who used Salazar as a translator. "I'm taking advantage of that. Every time I get the opportunity to go out there, I'm just trying to do my job."
The Francisco Treat: For his latest defensive gem, Tribe shortstop Francisco Lindor ended the second inning with a jaw-dropping diving play. Salvador Perez sent a pitch from Salazar past the mound that appeared destined for center field. According to Statcast™, Lindor ranged 25 feet to his left, hit a top speed of 15.7 mph and used a route efficiency of 96.7 percent to chase down the sharp grounder. Lindor dove, snared the ball and recovered quickly to nab Perez at first base.
"He has the ability to do that all the time," Francona said. "There's so much more to like. He's going to make plays like that, because he's really athletic, he has good hands, he has a good arm and he's into the game."
Salazar nabs Cain: Kansas City looked like it might have an early push going when Lorenzo Cain reached on an infield single two batters into the game. On a 1-2 count to Kendrys Morales, though, Salazar spun and fired a relay to Napoli at first base, and Cain slipped on his initial retreat to the bag. Cain was caught in a rundown and tagged for an inning-ending pickoff. From there, Salazar settled in and held the Royals without another hit until the sixth. More >
"That was great," Salazar said. "I wasn't even paying attention to that. Yan, he called a pickoff and I tried to do a quick move to first base. And we got him."
Flynn's debut: The left-handed Flynn had very little time to soak in the atmosphere of the Royals' clubhouse. Flynn officially was recalled from Triple-A Omaha earlier in the day and was out on the mound making his Royals debut in the fifth inning. He went four innings and gave up three hits and two runs to go with two walks and a pair of strikeouts. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (3-2, 2.61 ERA) will get the start on Saturday in the series rematch at 3:10 p.m. CT. He has faced the Indians twice in his career, the last time in 2011, when he was with the D-backs (he gave up four runs in eight innings). Kennedy gave up one run over five innings in a win over Seattle last Sunday.
Indians: For the second game in this three-game set, Cleveland is expected to officially recall right-hander Cody Anderson (0-1, 7.65) from Triple-A Columbus to start against the Royals on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET. Thanks to a pair of recent team off-days, the Indians were able to send Anderson down to work on a mechanical issue for one start before returning to the rotation.