MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Salazar chased early as Indians drop makeup game

Six-run fifth puts Tribe in big hole; Chisenhall drives in all three runs

Salazar chased early as Indians drop makeup game

CLEVELAND -- The Indians' stellar run of sterling starts has kept them coherent in the postseason chase. But that ran came to a crashing halt Monday at the hands of an Angels team with the best record and some of the hottest bats in baseball.

Fortunately for the Tribe, the Angels were only in town for one day for this makeup matinee of a game rained out in June. Unfortunately for the Tribe, it was a day when Danny Salazar did not respond well to the early wakeup call, as he gave up six runs in the fifth to send the Indians toward a 12-3 loss at Progressive Field.

"Waking up early [Sunday and Monday], it's the first time we've had two day games in a row," Salazar said. "You don't know how you're going to feel. Some days, you just wake up feeling tired."

Clearly, the Angels' bats weren't tired, even after their 34-run rampage in a four-game sweep of the Twins over the weekend. And while they technically earned themselves a four-game split of this series, all that really mattered in the immediate is that the win added further polish to their run toward an American League West crown while hampering the October opportunity for a Tribe team with little wiggle room down the stretch.

"They came in and did what they're supposed to do," Terry Francona said of the Halos.

As for Francona's Indians, the loss dropped them to five games back in the AL Central and 4 1/2 back for the second AL Wild Card spot. That they are alive in both races is a testament to their starting staff, which had posted a 1.84 ERA over the club's previous 26 games. Salazar, in particular, took a 17-inning scoreless streak into this ballgame, and he extended that streak to 21 innings after four.

Then it all came crashing down, dramatically.

Collin Cowgill's RBI groundout with runners on the corners broke the game's scoreless tie, and then Kole Calhoun smacked a fly ball to right-center that just carried over the wall for a two-run homer that made it 3-0. One Mike Trout strikeout later, the Halos worked some two-out magic with back-to-back hits from Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick, setting up the three-run blast to the bleachers off the bat of David Freese that made it 6-0 and chased Salazar from the game.

In that one inning, Salazar's ERA rose 56 points, from 3.63 to 4.19.

Francona thought it all came down to his young starter's inability -- or unwillingness -- to pitch inside.

"With Freese, he just never came in," Francona said. "[It was] away, away, away. [Freese] got a fastball that he hit down the right-field line foul. Then a breaking ball away that he went out and got. It was probably not a bad pitch, but he never came in to get him off of that pitch."

Salazar admitted he got a little too happy with the outside edges and should have come in more.

But the big issue, Salazar said, was that his body simply didn't respond to the game's timing. Though he insisted his arm felt fine and that the poor start was not the result of fatigue from his first career shutout five days earlier, Salazar did say he felt sluggish in general.

"We're going to have days like this," Salazar said.

The Tribe bats have been slumbering quite a bit of late, averaging just 3.3 runs in that aforementioned 26-game stretch. So the six-run hole loomed especially large, especially against Angels ace Jered Weaver.

The Indians did get on the board in the fifth with a two-out homer from Lonnie Chisenhall, and Chisenhall struck again with an RBI single in the sixth. But when the Angels answered with another pair off Zach McAllister in the seventh -- an inning prolonged by two potentially playable base hits that got by Chisenhall at third and Carlos Santana at first -- it was clear this makeup was one the Indians could have done without.

"We gave it right back to them," Francona said. "It makes for a long day."

It only got longer in the ninth, when Pujols and Kendrick hit back-to-back homers off Bryan Price to extend the Angels' lead to 12-3.

The only positive was that Salazar had the rest of the evening open to catch up on his rest.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.