Friday, Feb 23, 2018
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Albers tops Salazarin battle of rookies


Indians pitcher Danny Salazar struggled in his third major-league start, allowing three run in four innings.


MINNEAPOLIS — Andrew Albers threw a two-hitter in his second career start and the Minnesota Twins backed him with a pair of home runs to beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0 Monday night.

Albers (2-0) allowed just two singles, walked none, and struck out two.

Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe homered to help the Twins win for the eighth time in 11 games.

Prized prospect Danny Salazar (1-1) gave up three runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts in four innings.

The slumping Indians have lost seven of their last eight contests and are in danger of sliding out of the American League playoff chase.

Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes had the only hits for Cleveland.

Albers, a soft-tossing lefty from Canada, had Tommy John surgery in 2009 and made his big league debut at 27 years old in his last start. He threw 8 1/​3 scoreless innings at Kansas City and now has ripped off 17 1/​3 straight scoreless to start his career.

He kept the Indians off-balance with an assortment of breaking pitches all night, outshining the overpowering Salazar in the process.

The 23-year-old Salazar blazed through Cleveland’s minor league system, striking out 129 in 21 outings.

That didn’t stop when he got called up.

A fastball in the high 90s, a superb changeup, and the benefit of facing hitters who have never seen him before helping him rack up 17 strikeouts and walk only two in his first two starts.

The velocity was there in start No. 3, but the command wasn’t.

Dozier hit Salazar’s second pitch of the game out of the park and Plouffe hit a 96-mph fastball out for a two-run homer in the second.

Just when Salazar appeared to be settling in, he walked the bases loaded with one out in the fourth.

He was able to wiggle out of the jam without allowing any runs, but with so much on the line for the Indians as September approaches, manager Terry Francona didn’t leave him out there.

Albers was ahead 0-2 on 10 of the first 20 batters he faced, never hitting higher than 88 mph on the Target Field radar gun.

He had a perfect game going until Kipnis blooped a soft single to center field with two outs in the fourth and got some help from some spectacular defense along the way.

Dozier ran about 30 yards, laid out and hauled in a pop fly over his shoulder to get Carlos Santana in the fifth and shortstop Pedro Florimon made a brilliant sliding stop of a grounder up the middle in the seventh, then threw out Nick Swisher from his knees.

NOTES: The Twins have scored their last 22 runs off home runs. ... The Indians placed INF Mark Reynolds on release waivers on Monday. ... Francona said LHP Scott Kazmir “is doing really well” after saying he had a “dead arm” in his previous start. The plan is for him to get an extra three days’ rest and start Sunday at Oakland.

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