July 11, 2013 – Danny Salazar Defeats Cy Young Winner R.A. Dickey in MLB Debut
Danny Salazar started the 2013 season in Akron, moved up to Columbus and was called up to make spot start in the Thursday afternoon businessman’s special as the Indians were limping into the All-Star break with a 47-44 record.
The Blue Jays were wrapping up a mid-week series in Cleveland and would throw reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey against Salazar in his major league debut. Manager Terry Francona has said that he prefers to have new players make their debut in day games, so that they don’t have all day to become anxious. The noon start certainly seemed to benefit Salazar.
Salazar came out firing and struck out Blue Jays leadoff man Jose Reyes on five pitches to start the game. After a 1-2-3 inning, Asdrubal Cabrera staked Salazar to a lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the first.
Salazar had the home crowd behind him as he struck out the side against the heart of the Jays order in the top of the second, getting Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, and Maicer Izturis all swinging. His fastball routinely reached 97 to 99 MPH on the radar gun.
The veteran knuckleballer and the rookie battled back and forth until the sixth inning. Jays catcher Josh Thole singled to left to lead off the sixth. Salazar got an ovation from the crowd for holding the Jays hitless to that point. After getting the next two outs, Jose Bautista tied the game with an RBI double down the left field line.
Dickey’s knuckleball lost some of its movement around the sixth inning as well. He hit Michael Brantley and walked Ryan Rayburn to lead off the inning. After Brantley stole second, he walked Mark Reynolds to load the bases. Lonnie Chisenhall singled to left, which scored Brantley easily. Rajai Davis’ throw in from left missed the mark, allowing Rayburn to score as well.
Rich Hill replaced Salazar in the top of the seventh and tossed a 1-2-3 inning. Likewise, Cody Allen retired the Jays with no damage in the eighth.
After a Ryan Rayburn walk to leadoff the bottom of the eighth, Carlos Santana knocked a fly ball to deep right that got past a diving Jose Bautista for an RBI triple that put the Tribe up 4-2.
Closer Chris Perez came on to pitch the ninth inning. Perez was an effective closer, but his saves rarely came without drama. After recording the first two outs, Adam Lind doubled to right. Colby Rasmus then singled through the right side of the infield, scoring lind and cutting the Indians lead to one run. After a passed ball and a walk, Perez got Rajai Davis to fly out to left to record his save and give Salazar the win.
Salazar struck out seven Blue Jays on 89 pitches. This was the the most strikeouts for an Indians pitcher in his MLB debut since Luis Tiant struck out 11 Yankees in Game 91 of the 1964 Season.
With his quality spot start, Salazar took some pressure off the overworked Indians bullpen, but also got himself an entry in the history books as only the fourth pitcher to defeat the reigning Cy Young winner in his MLB debut.