Danny Salazar was effectively wild and John Danks was not effective overall, as the Indians spoiled the White Sox home opener with a 7-1 victory Friday afternoon before 38,019 at U.S. Cellular Field. The game was played with a first-pitch temperature of 39 degrees and intermittent snow flurries.
"It's very frustrating. We've been doing our jobs the last four games and we were coming in hot," White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier said. "You're going to have games like this. It happens. We couldn't really find a groove there with everybody, and that's the way it goes."
Salazar allowed one run on two hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking three. But he threw 94 pitches during his season-opening start, 52 for strikes. He went to a three-ball count on six of the first seven hitters, but closed the third without having given up a hit.
"We gave him a cushion, which was really good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You could tell he was having a tough time. He was scattering a lot of fastballs and deep counts. But, he still threw the ball really well. And you could tell he was having trouble throwing his breaking ball where he wanted to.
"Saying all that, he gave up the solo home run to Frazier and not a whole lot else."
The Indians jumped on Danks for three in the first, aided by Alex Avila's throwing error on aCarlos Santana swinging bunt in front of the plate. Jose Ramirez's double, Rajai Davis' triple and Jason Kipnis' sacrifice fly produced two more runs in the second. Danks retired 10 in a row, but yielded four straight hits with two outs in the fifth to bring in two runs.
"I've been excited about this start for a couple weeks now. I definitely pictured it going a lot different in my head," said Danks, who fanned six and walked one in five innings and 105 pitches. "But, you know, it's baseball. Got to get ready for the next one. That's just the way it goes. Do my best to forget about this and focus on Minnesota."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED First-inning mulligan: The White Sox would have liked a do-over for the first inning, after the Indians jumped on Danks for three runs. Danks allowed two singles and a walk, but the biggest issue of the frame came on Avila's error on Santana's swinging bunt in front of the plate with the bases loaded. Avila looked back toward home to see if he could get the ball to Danks for the force, and then threw the ball away at first, allowing two runs to score. With the frigid temperatures, Avila wasn't able to get a great grip on the ball.
"But, I mean, that doesn't really matter," Avila said. " I didn't help him out in that first inning there and we weren't able to stop the bleeding." More >
"Little things sometimes end up being big things," Francona said. "Carlos hit that ball 10 feet, but because he ran [we caught a break]. If he doesn't run, nothing happens. So, good things happen when you play the game right."
One step too far: The White Sox had the makings of a rally in the second, when Salazar issued back-to-back walks to Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia. With one out, though, Garcia wandered too far off first base. Catcher Yan Gomes received a pitch and snapped a quick throw to first baseman Mike Napoli, who made a swift tag to complete the pickoff. Salazar followed with a strikeout of Brett Lawrie and headed off the mound and straight to Gomes to thank his catcher for bailing him out.
"I was actually thrilled," Francona said of the play. "That's something we talked about in Spring Training. Nap and Gomer have talked about it. … They had a couple walks and, all of a sudden, it's two outs and a runner on second."
"For him, it was too big of a lead," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We're down by five, and we need a lot more than just him scoring. So really just shorten up and take care of it that way."
Davis shows off speed: Davis continued Cleveland's early push against Danks in the second, when he tripled to center to plate Ramirez. He then tested center fielder Austin Jackson by tagging and scoring on a flyout by Kipnis. In the bottom of the fifth, Davis sprinted back on an Adam Eaton liner to center, tracking down the deep fly with a lunging, falling catch at the warning track to bring an emphatic end to the inning.
"He said he didn't see that ball," said Francona, who then smiled. "But he said when everybody on the whole field is looking at him, that's a bad feeling. I said, 'Yeah, it didn't look good from our [standpoint], either.' I was proud of our guys today." More >
Welcome to Chicago: Frazier, who picked "Come Fly With Me" as his Frank Sinatra-themed walkup song, introduced himself to the home faithful with a one-out home run in the fourth on a 0-2 pitch. It was Frazier's second long ball since joining the White Sox.
QUOTABLE "It was a little bit weird, first time pitching in really cold weather. And then it was snowing. Sometimes I was getting behind in the count, but then I was coming back and I made the adjustment right there." -- Salazar, on fighting the elements
"That was amazing. I know he gave Napoli an eye or something, to be there. It got me. I was surprised. I didn't think he was going to throw there, but he did and he got the out. That was huge." -- Salazar, on Gomes' pickoff play
"You might be able to get to him because he tends to give you chances, but it's hard to capitalize on those chances." -- Avila, on Salazar
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Santana celebrated his 30th birthday with a pair of RBIs. Dating back to 2009, when Santana was with Double-A Akron, he has hit .419 (13-for-31) with six home runs and 16 RBIs on his last eight birthdays. That includes a 7-for-22 showing with three homers in the Majors.
AVOID THE INDIANS Danks has a 1-9 record with a 6.59 ERA over 13 career home starts against Cleveland.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Following his strong rookie showing a year ago, right-hander Cody Anderson was named the Indians' No. 4 starter to begin this season. Anderson went 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts for Cleveland last year, shoring up the back end of the rotation. This spring, Anderson impressed the Tribe with his overhauled physical condition and he displayed a noticeable jump in velocity on his pitches. Anderson will take the ball for the Tribe in a 1:10 p.m. ET divisional clash against the White Sox on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.
White Sox:Chris Sale will be making his 15th career start against the Indians on Saturday at 12:10 p.m. CT. He allowed three runs on four hits during a 34-pitch third inning against the A's in his first start on Opening Day but looked like the White Sox ace over the remaining six innings and 70 pitches. Sale struck out eight and walked one.