CLEVELAND — Danny Salazar racked up strikeouts but had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark in the Indians' 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
The Rays smacked five home runs, four solo shots off Salazar.
Salazar, a power pitcher, has often been one to pitch with a higher-than-normal number of "true outcomes," meaning home runs, walks or strikeouts. That was taken to the extreme Tuesday night. He began the night striking out four of the first five batters he faced. But then the home runs came in a hurry.
Colby Rasmus hit a solo home run in the second to put the Rays on top 1-0. Derek Norris and Corey Dickerson then went back-to-back to lead off the third inning. In the fifth, Dickerson added a second homer, an estimated 449-foot no-doubter to center field.
In all, Salazar (2-4) struck out nine hitters, the fourth time this season he's reached that mark, but was undone by the four home runs allowed, his career high for a single game.
There were mixed results to this outing, the first start after Salazar and the Indians revamped his pregame routine, doing away with the exercise of throwing weighted balls just before his first pitch. Salazar had struggled mightily to escape the first inning in his previous starts. On Tuesday, he got past the first inning without issue, but it wasn't enough to overcome the mini home run derby put on by the Rays (20-22).
Shawn Armstrong, called up from Triple A on Tuesday, entered in the sixth but couldn't stop the power barrage. With a runner on, he allowed the Rays' fifth home run of the night, this one to Tim Beckham, to extend the deficit to 6-1.
The Indians (20-18) made it a game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley led off the inning with singles against Rays starter Jake Odorizzi (3-2). Carlos Santana drove in a run with a ground out to first base on a diving play by Logan Morrison. Edwin Encarnacion, who has struggled this season and recently had his batting average dip below .200, drilled a line-drive, two-run home run to center field to cut the Rays' lead to 6-4. It was his sixth home run of the season.
Zach McAllister continued his strong season by throwing two scoreless innings, but the Indians couldn't get anything going against the Rays reliever Jose Alvarado and closer Alex Colome (10 saves).
In the ninth, Encarnacion reached base on a broken-bat single to bring the tying run to the plate, but the Indians never came up with the last needed counter punch, eventually running out of time to make up for the Rays' five-homer night.
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