CLEVELAND — The scuffling Indians made plenty of mistakes Friday night — as they were prone to do for much of the first month of the season. Only this time, they were able to hit their way out of all of them.
Equalling its highest run output of the season, Cleveland slugged its way to a 12-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the opener of a three-game Central Division series at Progressive Field.
“It was a good night offensively for us, and we needed it,” said manager Terry Francona, whose team snapped a six-game skid, using a five-run first inning to ignite the offensive fireworks. “We answered tonight. When they scored, we answered. We kept at them offensively. We had a real good approach early. They kind of got right back in the game, but then we kept swinging it, and we did some really good things offensively.”
The Indians outhit the White Sox 13-10, with four players — Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana — recording multihit games.
The offensive output made a winner for the first time out of right-hander Danny Salazar, who allowed five runs (3 earned) on seven hits and three walks while striking out six over five innings.
Defensive miscues, something the Indians have produced often thus far, made things difficult on Salazar. Second baseman Elliot Johnson dropped two throws at second base and Gomes had a passed ball that allowed a run to score.
“I thought he did an outstanding job of damage control,” Francona said of Salazar. “A couple leadoff walks and a couple balls we didn’t turn at second, and once he had his hands full, I thought he really threw the ball well. There was one inning where, bases loaded, nobody out, 3-0 count and he ends up pitching out of it. That takes pretty exceptional stuff to do that.
“That’s the good part. Throwing that many pitches in that few innings, some of it’s walks, some of it’s deep counts, some of it’s we didn’t make the plays.”
The Indians batted around against Sox starter John Danks in the opening inning, then added single runs in the second and third after Chicago scored three times in the second.
Santana belted his fourth homer in the second after driving in a run with a double in the first.
“He’s such a good hitter, and the good part is when he gets hot it’s not just singles,” Francona said. “He’ll hit the ball out of the ballpark, he’ll hit the ball in the gap. He’ll still take his walks, but he can be a big run producer for us.”
Brantley hit a solo shot in the fifth inning, then added a two-run single in Cleveland’s four-run sixth for a 3-for-5 night. He leads the Indians with five homers and 23 RBIs.
“I’ve always loved his approach,” Francona said of Brantley. “I just think he’s maturing. I think his lower half might be a little stronger, his base. Coming into the year just allows him to hit the way he’s always hit, but some of those balls are going a little farther. He knows the league, knows himself, knows the situations. His approach has always been really good.”
Prior to the game, Indians pitchers Cody Allen and Corey Kluber wore chicken outfits while shagging balls in the outfield. If it played a part in shaking the losing funk, Francona is on board.
“I don’t care what takes credit. It was nice to shake hands,” he said. “We needed that. If we’re gonna win again, they can all show up and wear chicken outfits.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.