Danny Salazar's strikeout stuff made history tonight. In a departure from last season, however, record-setting performances by opposing pitchers are nothing for the White Sox to be embarrassed about.
Salazar became the first pitcher to strike out 10 batters without completing four innings. The problem: He could only record outs by the strikeout. It was an all-or-nothing game for Salazar, and even when he recorded the K, the Sox made him work for those. When the Sox put the ball in play, they couldn't lose.
That's how Salazar's night ended early, and with a bizarre line: 3⅔ IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 2 HR. He threw 93 pitches to record 11 outs, and the non-strikeout came courtesy of Adam Eaton, who was unsuccessful in stretching a single into a double. Despite all the swinging and missing, the Sox provided an enjoyable evening of offense.
The Sox wouldn't let the strikeouts get them down, and maybe that means the Sox won't let the Indians get them down this year. Tonight's victory snapped a 14-game losing streak to Cleveland, and they're already halfway to matching their win total against the Tribe last season.
Talk about departures.
John Danks overcame some early strife. He fell behind 2-0 in a flash (leadoff double, walk, single and error, wild pitch, sac fly), and after Jose Abreu hit a rocket blast to left-center to break up Salazar's bid for a Steve Nebraska Game, Danks gave it right back by yielding a solo shot to Asdrubal Cabrera.
The offense gave Danks another chance. Alexei Ramirez led off with a solo shot. Adrian Nieto followed with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Eaton's single, which tied the game at 3.
Danks put himself on another course for disappointment when Ryan Raburn led off the fourth with a single, followed by a 3-0 count to Michael Brantley. Danks dug deep and threw two strikes, the second of which started a 4-6-3 double play.
Outside of a brief two-out rally in the sixth inning, the Indians never threatened again -- not against Danks, nor Daniel Webb nor Matt Lindstrom. White Sox pitching retired the last 10.
And by that point, the offense had already extended its lead into comfort territory. They added two in the fourth when Ramirez drove a double to the right-center gap to score Dayan Viciedo (who singled) and Alejandro De Aza (who walked).
One inning later, Abreu torched Terry Francona. With righty-killer C.C. Lee warm in the bullpen, Francona tried to ride lefty Josh Outman for the last out, which would allow him to start the sixth against Adam Dunn. On a 2-1 count, Outman tried dropping a slider on Abreu. It split the plate, and Abreu scorched another line drive into the seats, making it a three-run game.
Adding insult to injury for Francona, Outman walked Dunn, forcing Lee into the game before the end of the inning, anyway. Abreu went on to make it a three-RBI game with a productive out in the seventh, but they wouldn't need any of the insurance runs. That's another welcome departure, albeit only from the first week of the season.
*De Aza committed the first-inning error when he got played by the spin on a single, giving up an extra base. Marcus Semien also committed an error when he tried to round off a ball and it ramped up his arm.
*Ramirez is now 6-for-7 with a homer and a double off Salazar.