From the very first pitch a little after noon Wednesday, Zach McAllister was in the zone against the San Diego Padres.
It was the first game of the Indians doubleheader at a sunny but still chilly Progressive Field, the start of a guaranteed long day with at least 18 innings in store. Add the fact that it was a getaway day no less, with the Tribe headed to Chicago afterwards to begin a series against the White Sox Thursday.
So, McAllister’s quick work was much appreciated by his teammates among others, as the right-hander struck out the first batter of the game on three pitches and then went on to cruise through 7 2/3 scoreless innings, leading the Tribe to a 2-0 victory.
After quickly retiring the Indians in the first inning on 10 pitches, Padres starting pitcher Eric Stults found himself in trouble in the second when he loaded the bases with one out. But Mike Aviles popped out to foul territory just in front of the stands on the first baseline and David Murphy was called out on a close play at first base to end the threat.
Once he got out of the jam unscathed, the Padres left-hander settled in until the sixth inning when the Tribe finally got to him and chased him from the mound. After Nick Swisher reached safely on an error with one out, Jason Kipnis's first home run of the season broke the deadlock by giving the Tribe a 2-0 lead.
With McAllister, 26, matching his career-high in innings, Kipnis’s homer was all the offense the Indians needed to wrap up the victory. McAllister’s dominating outing was in stark contrast to his first appearance of the season, which ironically also came in the first game of a double header. Against the host Oakland A’s, McAllister lasted just four innings, giving up three runs on six hits in the brief outing.
But he didn’t run into trouble Wednesday until he’d notched two outs in the eighth inning, then gave up back-to-back singles to Alexi Amarista and Everth Cabrera. But reliever Cody Allen promptly quelled the threat by getting Seth Smith to strike out looking. Tribe closer John Axford made it interesting in the ninth inning by allowing two base runners before finishing off the Padres to notch his fourth save on the young season.