Indians Fall to Rays 6-4 After Allowing 5 Home Runs; Three Takeaways from the Loss
While it was a beautiful day for baseball at Progressive Field, the Indians struggled against the Tampa Bay Rays late into the evening, and ended up falling short with a 6-4 loss.
With the loss Cleveland's six-game win streak against the Rays came to a screeching halt.
Taking the loss for the Indians was Danny Salazar, (2-4, 5.66 ERA) who gave up five runs off of six hits in his five innings on the mound.
While the Tribe tried to mount a comeback from a 6-1 deficit, it would prove to be too much to overcome.
Cleveland has a chance to close out the series with a win tomorrow, but for now, here are our three takeaways from the loss.
1. Don't Call it a Comeback (Really)
The Tribe dug themselves into a pretty deep hole in the first five and a half innings, and were down 6-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
While they mounted a mini-comeback in the inning, it wouldn't be enough to combat the early runs the Rays put on the board.
Francisco Lindor started the inning off with a single, which Michael Brantley matched in the next at bat. Lindor would score after Carlos Santana grounded out to first.
But Edwin Encarnacion got the big play of the inning, hitting a 407-foot homer over the center field wall.
The three runs the Tribe scored in the inning closed the Rays' lead to two, but production stalled after that. Cleveland recorded only one more hit after the sixth inning, an Encarnacion single in the bottom of the ninth.
In their last three games, the Indians have put up 20 runs. Tonight they just couldn't get a few more on the board early when it would have counted, and couldn't keep their sixth inning momentum rolling.
2. The Bad (and Some Good) in Salazar's Slow Start
Throughout his seven starts this year, Salazar has struggled early.
Coming in to Tuesday's game, he had an ERA of 9.00 in innings 1-2, but that number dropped to 2.49 in innings 3-7.
What made this game different is the fact that he never seemed to find his footing after giving up an early run in the second inning on a homer from Colby Rasmus. He gave up three more homers; one to Derek Norris in the third and two to Corey Dickerson in the third and the fifth innings.
When all was said and done, Salazar gave up 4 home runs in five innings of work, a new career high. It was the first time any Indians pitcher gave up four home runs since Corey Kluber did it in 2015 against the Red Sox. The five home runs the team gave up was a season high number as well.
The one bright spot in Salazar's performance is the fact that he still struck out nine batters. His 62 strikeouts this season are currently the third best in the American League. Salazar is currently averaging over 10 strikeouts per nine innings, which is good for third best in the AL and seventh best in MLB.
3. Encarnacion's and Gomes' Production at the Plate
Are we finally on the verge of Encarnacion's breakthrough?
He played a critical role against the Rays going two of four from the plate, and ultimately shrinking the deficit to two with his homer in the sixth inning.
It's the fourth time this month that Encarnacion has gotten multiple hits, which is saying something considering he has struggled against Jake Odorizzi throughout his career.
If we are witnessing his breakthrough, it's worth noting the Tribe is 4-2 in games where we get to see his famous "Edwing."
Gomes also continued to produce offensively on Tuesday night.
In his four at bats he recorded two hits. In the third inning he notched a double, and would eventually score the Indians first run on a double from Kipnis. In the fifth inning he recorded a single, but was left on base to close out the inning.
Tuesday marked his fifth multi-hit game of 2017, and he is batting .375 in May. Going back to the beginning of the month, Gomes has gotten a hit in eight of the Tribe's last ten outings.