A big home run by the Cincinnati Reds most unlikely player led to the host Indians undoing Tuesday at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
A day later, the venue changed for the final two games of the Interleague series, with the Reds welcoming the Indians to Great American BallPark.
But the result was same – just doubled this time.
Wednesday against hard-throwing Danny Salazar, the Reds slammed a pair ofhome runs that sent the Indians to an 8-3 blowout defeat that could have been a lot worse if not for the Tribe rallying late against tiring starter Mat Latos.
With Latos trying to go the distance, Yan Gomes broke up his complete-game shutout bid with an eighth-inning leadoff home run that landed in the second deck of the left field bleachers. Pinch hitter Ryan Raburn followed with a two-run double made it a three-run inning.
But it mattered little by that point, as Reds reliever Jumbo Diaz came on with two outs in the inning and quelled the threat before the visitors got any more ideas.
Tuesday, Indians starter Josh Tomlin, who has a penchant for living and (mostly) dying by the long ball, absorbed a three-run home run by Ramon Santiago in the second inning that sparked a 9-2 Reds victory.
Like Santiago’s first home run of the season, the Reds rode homers by more unlikely sluggers. Zack Cozart sent a Salazar pitch 391 feet off the left field foul pole for a three-run shot in the second inning – one batter before Latos was scheduled to first hit.
But it wasn’t just a mistake on this night. Two innings later, Salazar dished up a two-run shot to Reds seventh hitter Kristopher Negron in the fourth that made it five early unanswered runs.
Prior to Wednesday’s start, Salazar had given up a combined four runs – and no homers – over his last three starts spanning 18 innings.
Salazar – one of Major League Baseball’s most exciting rookie pitchers last year – saw his night come to a close after a mere four innings and 69 pitches in the loss that dropped him to 4-5. After the game, Salazar learned he was being optioned to Triple-A Columbus so the Indians could call up reliever C.C. Lee after the bullpen picthing in 10 innings over the past two games.
Latos, meanwhile, pitched deep into the night to pick up his fourth win of the season. The Reds right-hander blanked the Tribe for seven innings before their late rally. In all, he held the Indians to three runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out five.
The teams wrap up the four-game series Thursday, with the Reds owning a 2-1 lead after dropping Monday’s series-opener in Cleveland.