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Salazar dominating after starting season in Minors

Righty has 2.08 ERA in two outings after fanning 11, giving up one run Friday

DETROIT -- Danny Salazar issued a statement in the second inning on Friday night. The young Indians starter slipped into a two-out jam with two runners aboard and was faced the the daunting task of taking on Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera.

Salazar fired a 97-mph fastball that tailed over the plate and darted past Cabrera's bat. It was a critical strikeout to end the threat, setting the tone for an overpowering outing from the right-hander. Cleveland's offense followed suit with a surplus of support in a 13-1 rout over Detroit at Comerica Park.

"It's easier said than done," Indians manager Terry Francona said of facing Cabrera in that type of situation. "But if you don't stay aggressive and they sense it, especially Miggy, he can get those big arms extended, and he kills you."

It was Salazar who did the silencing this time.

Over seven innings, Salazar established a career best with 11 strikeouts, and he held Detroit's lineup to one run -- a solo homer by Nick Castellanos in the second -- on six hits. The righty walked three and hit one batter, but did not allow those lapses to get in the way of a stellar 115-pitch performance. Salazar averaged 97 mph with his fastball (topping out at 99 mph) and generated 18 swings and misses.

"I'm more aggressive now," Salazar said, "pitch by pitch, inning by inning, until they pull me out of the game."

In two outings, the 25-year-old Salazar has picked up two wins, posted a 2.08 ERA and amassed 21 strikeouts against five walks in 13 innings of work. That showing comes after one start at Triple-A and a Spring Training that was all over the map. Salazar admits that he may have focused too much on conditioning, and not enough on pitching, during the preseason.

Salazar's stay in the Minor Leagues was brief, but it may have made an impact.

"I put in my mind that I need to work hard," Salazar said. "Once you're up here, you don't want to go back there again. The way that you need to work to keep yourself here is really hard and consistent. That's what I'm doing now."

Salazar's work is hardly done, though.

"He had a really good week this week," Francona said. "Now, we'll challenge him again tomorrow ... because we need him to have about another 30 of them. That's the object. When you start doing that, with his stuff, that's when you have a chance to be really good.

"He's so important. ... [T]he way Danny throws the ball, if he can attain that level of consistency, he's going to be really special. That's why we stay on him so much."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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