CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians, whose slumbering offense finally stirred to life Friday night, will host the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night in the second of their three-game series.
Cleveland won the opener of the series 13-3. The victory was a welcome one for the Indians, who had lost six of their previous seven games and had only scored 14 runs in the six losses.
Blue Jays pitchers, meanwhile, took a beating Friday night. Four Toronto pitchers combined to give up 13 runs and 15 hits, eight of them for extra bases. The bullpen got the worst of it, to the point that reinforcements may be in order.
Article continues below ...
In their last two games, the Blue Jays have given up 21 runs and 25 hits. Asked after the blowout loss on Friday if the team may have to call up a pitcher or two from the minors, manager John Gibbons said, “We’ll see. We’ll be getting Joe Smith back, but there could be others.”
Smith is expected to be activated off the disabled list Saturday. He was placed on the DL on June 21 with right shoulder inflammation. In 34 relief appearances with Toronto, he is 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA.
For Cleveland, Danny Salazar (3-5, 5.40 ERA) will be activated off the disabled list and start Saturday, his first start since May 27. Salazar was placed on the disabled list June 6 with right shoulder soreness. In four minor league rehab starts, he was 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA.
Salazar was selected to the American League All-Star team last year, but since then he has struggled. In 17 games before last year’s All-Star break, Salazar was 10-3 with a 2.75 ERA. In 20 appearances since, he is 4-8 with a 6.16 ERA.
“It’s been awhile, but to get him back, and to get him pitching the way he can pitch, it’s exciting,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The Indians could use a boost because they have been stuck in the doldrums for the last few weeks. They are 10-13 since June 23, although their 13-run outburst Friday was encouraging.
On a West Coast trip coming out of the All-Star break, they went 1-5 against two last-place teams, Oakland and San Francisco.
“We’re inconsistent now, and we’ve been inconsistent,” Francona said. “You don’t push a button and have that stop. This is all cyclical, but we’ve got to find ways to win games we have been losing.”
Salazar’s last start vs. Toronto came May 10 when he received a no-decision in an 8-7 Cleveland loss. Salazar pitched just 2 2/3 innings, giving up five runs and five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. In four career starts against Toronto, Salazar is 2-1 with a 4.58 ERA.
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-5, 3.10) will start for the Blue Jays. He last faced Cleveland on May 8, when he was the winning pitcher in a 4-2 Toronto victory. In that game, Stroman pitched six scoreless innings and gave up six hits, with one strikeouts and two walks.
Stroman comes into Saturday’s game on a roll. In his last four starts, he is 2-1 with 1.03 ERA. In four career appearances against the Indians, he is 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA.