"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes you get what you want right away. Other times, things look bleak at the start, and you've got decide whether to stick around and see if things get better or not. Friday's home opener was delayed by more than two hours by a driving rain. Once the game finally began, Danny Salazar gave up a hit to the first man he faced and Nyjer Morgan turned it from a single into a double by misplaying the ball. A few minutes later a home run to right field made it a 2-0 game. Salazar also got into trouble in the 2nd, but avoided anyone scoring when Michael Brantley nailed a runner at the plate, and again in the 5th, when he wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam. Meanwhile, the Tribe lineup could hardly have gone down any faster in the first four innings, making 12 outs on just 36 pitches.
Things turned around in the 6th inning though, with Yan Gomes showing off both sides of his excellence. First Gomes threw out an attempted base thief for a beautiful strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play, then he led off the 6th inning with a line-drive home run to put the Indians on the board. Next, Lonnie Chisenhall drew a walk, which is more exciting than it might sound, because a poor walk rate has been the biggest thing holding Lonnie back, and if he develops better plate discipline he can become a great hitter. Two batters later, Nick Swisher sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy by depositing a Mike Pelfrey fastball into the seats, putting the Tribe ahead.
The offense went back to work in the 7th, with Gomes, Chisenhall, Morgan, and Swisher all collecting hits in succession to score two runs, and Michael Brantley later singling in two more, making it a 7-2 ballgame. Josh Outman and Bryan Shaw had already recorded two outs each by then, with Shaw's stuff looking absolutely unhittable as he struck out Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. Cody Allen came in next and allowed a pair of hits, but stranded both runners, then Blake Wood entered and struck out the side in the 9th to finish off the win. The 4 relievers combined for 3.1 shutout innings, with 7 strikeouts and only 2 base runners. As a group they've now pitched 15 innings this season, with 18 strikeouts and only 1 earned run. Yes please.
Salazar didn't look his sharpest, but he was able to throw 95 pitches, and his velocity was good (he regularly hit 94-96 MPH, and topped out at 98). As he often did last year, he was heavily reliant on his fastball, which is something of a problem, because his location isn't varied, and MLB hitters can time even 98 MPH heaters. Hopefully his other pitches come along soon, so that he can be a dependable weapon on the mound.
Swisher and Gomes each homered ad collected another hit, Chisenhall and Carlos Santana each reached base safely three times, including a double for each of them. Brantley had a clutch hit, just as we came to expect from him last season. There was a whole lot to like from the offense once they got going. Hopefully that carries over into the rest of the weekend.
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