CHICAGO: Through the first eight batters Thursday night, Indians starter Danny Salazar played an amazingly bizarre game with the Chicago White Sox.
In that span, Salazar struck out six. The other two batters, Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez, touched him for home runs.
The 24-year-old right-hander consistently hit 95 or 96 mph on the radar gun as he matched his career-high of 10 strikeouts, this time in just 3⅔ innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Salazar became the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 10 in fewer than four innings.
But in the end, small ball spelled the end for Salazar (0-1, 6.75 ERA) as the Indians dropped a 7-3 decision before 11,116 at U.S. Cellular Field.
With one out in the fourth inning, the White Sox scored two runs to snap a 3-3 tie. Dayan Viciedo singled to right and Alejandro De Aza walked, Viciedo going to third on catcher Yan Gomes’ throwing error. Ramirez followed with a two-run double over Michael Brantley’s head in center field to put the White Sox ahead 5-3.
Appropriately enough, Salazar caught Adrian Nieto, the final batter he faced, looking at a called third strike. Salazar’s 10 strikeouts matched his Aug. 7, 2013, rookie-season performance against the Detroit Tigers, that effort lasting 7⅔ innings.
But Salazar’s outing against the White Sox was as erratic as it was historically brilliant. He threw 93 pitches, 57 for strikes. He gave up five runs on six hits and walked two.
While Nos. 2 and 3 starters Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister showed marked improvement from their first outings, Salazar regressed, at least in terms of distance and runs allowed. In the home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 4, he went 5⅔ innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. That day he struck out four and allowed one home run.
Salazar wasn’t the only Indian to fall victim to first baseman Abreu. Facing Josh Outman in the fifth, Abreu sent his fourth home run of the season into the left field stands. Abreu also had a multihomer game Tuesday at Colorado.
The loss snapped the Indians’ streak of consecutive victories over the White Sox at 14, one shy of the second-longest string against a single opponent in franchise history. Last year the Indians went 17-2 against the White Sox, never dropping a game from June 28 on.
The game also marked an important early stretch in the schedule, the first of 11 out of 14 games against American League Central Division foes.
For the Indians, Asdrubal Cabrera homered to center field in the third inning and doubled off the wall in left in the first. Ryan Raburn singled twice and added an RBI sacrifice fly. Jason Kipnis, a Northbrook, Ill., native, continued his offensive success in his hometown. With a single to left in the first inning, he has hit safely in 19 of 20 career games at U.S. Cellular Field.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.