Indians right-hander Danny Salazar packed a lot into a brief outing in tonight’s 7-3 loss to the White Sox. And he secured an interesting place in history in the process.
Salazar was pulled in the fourth inning at 93 pitches. The hard-throwing 24-year-old gave up five runs on six hits (including home runs by Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez) and two walks before exiting. Of the 11 outs that he recorded, 10 of them were via the strikeout. The other was when Adam Eaton was cut down attempting to stretch a single into a double in the bottom of the third inning. The 10 strikeouts matched a career-high.
OK, on to the history part. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Salazar is the first pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to reach 10 strikeouts in a start under four innings. Seriously. That has never happened before tonight. It’s an interesting footnote, but he’d surely rather have a more efficient outing and the victory.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.