Francona: Salazar not tipping pitches

Tribe manager says starter's struggles more related to lack of pitch execution.

Apr 17, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (17) takes the ball to relieve starting pitcher Danny Salazar (31) in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Rick Osentoski / USA Today Sports

CLEVELAND -- The day after Danny Salazar admitted that he might be tipping his pitches, Terry Francona admitted he was surprised to hear that but also said that wasn't the case in Tuesday's 8-2 loss to the Royals.

Salazar, who is 0-3 with a 7.85 ERA, gave up five runs (four earned) in 4 1/3 innings. Three of those runs came on a Mike Moustakas' home run in the fourth where the right-hander left a changeup hanging down the middle. After pitching three innings of no-hit ball, Salazar allowed seven hits, including three extra-base hits, to the final 13 batters he faced.

"If you go back and look at the game, there are ways people hit that make you think that," Francona said. "When he made pitches he got them. When he left the changeup up there that hurt him."

Salazar said after the game that on a changeup sometimes he opens his glove too much and that he notices the same thing too on fastballs. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway said on Wednesday that they noticed some problems with Salazar more last year than this year with that and that they have tried to hone in on that and hold the ball a different way.

The problem though has been that Salazar sometimes has reverted back to old habits, especially as the game wears on.

"You gotta get in the mirror and do it 1,000 times if they have to get rid of it. It's a tough habit to break because they do it for a reason. It becomes a habit. They gotta do their due diligence to make it happen," Callaway said.

The one thing Francona is not about to do is send Salazar down to Triple-A Columbus. Even though Salazar is averaging 11.29 strikeouts per nine innings this season, he has only one win in his last 13 regular-season starts dating back to August of last season.

Trevor Bauer improved to 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA after he allowed only one run in 6 2/3 innings of Columbus' 11-1 win over Gwinnet on Tuesday.

When asked about Bauer, Francona said: "Had a pretty good game last night. I don't think it was quite as crisp as the one before but still pretty good. He had a high strike percentage."

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