Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer still has a baby face and a sky-high ceiling, which is why it’s mind boggling that it’s been a full 10 years since the Cleveland Indians selected the North Carolina high schooler in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB draft. In a just world, the team would be perpetually kicking itself for subsequently trading the kid away (cough, Mark DeRosa, cough), but as it’s turned out, the fully-grown Archer has yet to get any measure of revenge against the club that spurned him. Today’s contest was no exception. Indians 6, Rays 0.
On a day in which three Tribesmen—Marlon Byrd, Rajai Davis, and Jose Ramirez—tallied their first homeruns of the campaign, the star of the game was a slim Dominican gentleman whom Cleveland signed less than a month after drafting Archer. Danny Salazar was just 16 back then, but fortunately, despite plenty of good offers over the years, Antonetti and Co. never cut bait on him. Right now he’s looking about as dominant as any hurler in the league.
Starting this rubber match matinee in that dingy, soulless, catwalk-ridden, carpet-laden, eerily silent terrarium of apathy known as Tropicana Field, Salazar (2-0) breezed through the Tampa line-up for six innings of scoreless ball, allowing just three hits and striking out nine. I suppose you could complain about his pitch count totals (104 in just six frames), but he’s allowed five hits all season, so please utilize your negativity more efficiently.
To his credit, Archer did battle Salazar pitch for pitch for a while. After tap dancing out of a first inning jam in which Rajai Davis and Jason Kipnis swiped three bags on helpless Rays catcher Hank Conger, Archer settled in, keeping it a 0-0 game into the fifth. An error and a walk then set up the first Tribe run, as Francisco Lindor delivered again with an RBI single.
Salazar got out of a very brief semi-jam of his own in the fifth, when a one-out Conger double was erased on a replay review, revealing old Hank had bounced off the bag while Lindor still held the tag on him.
Were Corey Kluber on the hill in a 1-0 game, one would feel the dark clouds of shit luck begin to gather. But it’s worth remembering that—no matter your feelings on the Cleveland offensive attack—Salazar has rarely suffered the sort of run-support injustices Kluber has. Last year, he was actually 16th in the AL in run support per 9 IP at 4.82, easily best among Indian starters. Today, even with the tough head-to-head matchup against Archer, it was more of the same. Marlon Byrd went full Kobe in the sixth, muscling up as only a 38 year-old can for a two-run bomb. Rajai Davis, also being in an advanced state of 30-something-ness, was inspired, and followed suit to make it a 4-0 Cleveland lead.
Archer worked 5 1/3 innings, surrendering three runs (two earned) and striking out six. He is now 0-4 in four career starts against the Indians (22 IP) with a 4.91 ERA and 5 homers allowed. By contrast, this was just Salazar’s second career start against Tampa, but he’s 2-0 with just five HITS allowed in 13.2 innings.
Anyway, in uncharacteristic Cleveland fashion, some insurance was even purchased in the late innings, as Tyler Naquin notched his first Major League RBI on a bloop to left field, and Jose Ramirez continued showing some of that power stroke we saw in Goodyear, crushing a solo shot to right in the ninth inning. Feel free to ignore the fact that the line-up actually went 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13. Again, are you really gonna complain about a 6-0 win? There are catwalks everywhere! It’s f%#@ing distracting!
The bullpen held off the fairly horrendous Rays line-up after Salazar took his leave. Zach McAllister was solid, Bryan Shaw lowered his ERA to 16.88, and Trevor Bauer struck out three. How y’all feelin’ about the Bauer Outage in the Pen dynamic so far? How ya feelin’ about your 4-3 Tribe?!
Old Baseball Card of the Day:
1998 Circa Thunder – Paul Sorrento
It’s a good bet that someday people will speak fondly of the Tampa Bay baseball team and ironically wear Devil Ray caps long after the club has moved to greener pastures. But let’s not fool ourselves. This is and has always been a dumb franchise—even when they were expertly constructed and making deep playoffs runs. They just seem like a silly made-up team from a film in which Keanu Reeves plays a pitcher with a secret. And their current exploding sunshine logo looks like one of those clipart “Make Your Own Team” stock logos from an unlicensed mid ‘90s video game—the ones where Barry Bonds is shown on the cover in a blank uniform. Anyway, this horrible Paul Sorrento “Devil Rays” baseball card is from 1998. It spells out “Sorrento” likes it’s a movie poster for a new Dario Argento horror flick. Come to think of it, that might be amusing. Paul Sorrento has a certain Sly Stallone charm, but there might be a twisted evil soul lurking beneath that mama’s boy exterior.
C-Cap Recap Custom Box Score
April 14, 2016
Indians 6, Rays 0
Green Highlight (as in “Great”): Salazar is a no-brainer for Player of the Game. I am glad I paid him $37 fake dollars to join my roto team.
Yellow Highlight (as in “Almost Green”): Tyler Naquin finally is getting some at-bats now that we’re past “Southpaw Week ’16.” So far, so good.
Red Highlight (as in “Stop, You’re Bad”): Logan Morrison. Worst Logan on the Rays thus far this season.
Next Up: The New York Metropolitans, and more importantly, international folk hero Bartolo Colon, come to town tomorrow.