ANAHEIM, Calif: After a one-game slump, Danny Salazar came back looking like the best thing that’s happened to the Indians since the invention of fireworks.
Salazar gave up one run in 5⅓ innings but was long gone when Drew Stubbs unloaded on Joe Blanton’s 2-and-2 pitch, sending a soaring fly ball over the left field wall to give the Tribe a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels in 14 innings Tuesday night.
Lonnie Chisenhall began the rally by delivering a single up the middle, one batter ahead of Stubbs.
The rally continued with Michael Bourn beating out an infield hit and scoring when Blanton made a wild throw to first on Jason Kipnis’ slow roller.
“Actually, I didn’t see the home run,” manager Terry Francona said. “[Jason] Giambi was in my way. And the way the ball carries here at night, I didn’t know if it would go out.”
The Angels had three legitimate shots to win the game and wasted each opportunity. Then again maybe the Indians had ‘em all the way, inasmuch as they are 9-2 in extra innings games.
The Angels could have broken the 1-1 tie in the eighth. Kipnis’ error at second put Josh Hamilton on first with one out, and Joe Smith came out of the bullpen to pitch to Mark Trumbo who singled to give the Angels runners at first and second.
But in a saving move, Smith picked off Hamilton at second just before Kole Calhoun delivered a single to right that surely would have scored Hamilton.
Asdrubal Cabrera said he called the pickoff play and, “Joe made a good throw.”
However, that inning paled in comparison to the misfeasance by the Angels in the 10th, when they had the bases loaded with nobody out and failed to score.
Bourn saved the game in the 12th by making a leaping catch near the fence in center with two outs, runners on first and second and Chris Perez pitching.
“The ball kept going farther than I thought it would,” Bourn said. “It just kept carrying. I’m thinking, ‘Oh man.’ I hit the wall on the way down.”
The pickoff play, Bourn’s catch, a diving stop and throw to first by Cabrera in the ninth with runners on first and second all played a part in the win.
“There wasn’t much offense, but we kept playing,” Francona said. “So did they. A lot of guys did a lot of good things.”
It could become annoying if Salazar continues to give up a home run to the first batter he sees in the first inning.
He did it Tuesday night, when J.B. Shuck drove an 0-and-1 pitch over the wall in right for his second home run of the season. Salazar did the same thing against the Minnesota Twins two weeks ago. However, the odds are he won’t make a habit of the practice.
He has had difficulty keeping the ball in the park. In 23 innings (four starts), Salazar has given up five home runs.
On the other hand, if he didn’t have that problem, he really would have no problems at all, a rare circumstance for a 23-year-old rookie with 1½ months of big-league experience.
“He threw the ball really well,” Francona said. “He gave up a leadoff homer again, but other than that he was really good.”
Salazar limited the Angels to three hits and two walks, striking out seven. There was nothing resembling a sustained rally against him, and except for Shuck, no Angels runner reached second while he was on the mound.
In his only sub par outing, last week against the Twins, Salazer gave up three runs (two home runs) and three hits in four innings.
C.J. Wilson had the same effect on Tribe batsmen as Salazar had on the Angels. He struck around for 7⅓ innings and gave up just one run on Carlos Santana’s seventh inning homer.
Eight Cleveland relievers did not allow a run in 8⅔ innings.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.