The Cleveland Indians got another strong pitching performance and the offense to support it as they take two out of three from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Just two days after a late collapse by Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians bullpen, the offense gave Danny Salazar plenty of support and the bullpen did their part in a 6-0 win. The Tribe hit three home runs to supports Salazar’s three-hit, six-inning performance.
After another effort in which Kluber needed near perfection to have a chance to win, the Indians came out with the boomsticks behind Carlos Carrasco last night and now Salazar, providing him with home runs from Marlon Byrd, Rajai Davis and Jose Ramirez–the first of the season for each. The Tribe were able to get to Rays starter Chris Archer, who hasn’t won in his last nine starts, posting a 5.83 ERA in that span.
The trend of scoring for their starters–except for Kluber–is a continuation of last season. I briefly mentioned that Terry Francona might not have any trust in the bullpen, but it could have been the fact that he didn’t want to put Kluber’s chance at a win in the hands of the pen.
Zach McAllister, Bryan Shaw and Trevor Bauer close out the final three innings, striking out five of the 11 batters they faced. Bauer is still looking to find his place in the bullpen, and this gave Tito a chance to see how he would fare in the late innings–even if they weren’t high-leverage. He might be looking to establish a role for Bauer, or he might be “auditioning” him for another team. Entirely too early to be sure.
Rookie Tyler Naquin seemed buried behind Davis on the depth chart, but got his chance and made it count on Thursday. He went 3-for-5 with an RBI, surely a confidence booster for the young man as he tries to get his footing.
The Indians are a game over .500 so far this April, and for many we’re calling that a small victory to this point. There are still some consistency issues to be ironed out with the offense, but things are looking positive for the Tribe so far.