Columbus’ Danny Salazar tossed six shutout innings during the Clippers’ victory over the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field on Sunday. BLADE/JETTA FRASER
While the Cleveland Indians were busy losing in Oakland on Sunday, several potential reinforcements were sharpening their skills at Fifth Third Field.
Pitcher Danny Salazar was impressive in a rehab start for Columbus, while Austin Jackson had an RBI single as he began a rehab assignment in the Clippers’ 3-0 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens.
Salazar has struggled this season, posting a 3-5 record and 5.40 ERA with Cleveland before going on the disabled list June 3 with a sore shoulder.
He was impressive Sunday, allowing just three hits and three walks while fanning nine in six innings.
“I feel good,” Salazar said. “I’m happy with the way I feel right now, because I feel strong and feel healthy again.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Columbus 3, Mud Hens 0
Salazar struggled with his command early, walking three while throwing nearly as many balls (19) as strikes (20). But in the third inning, he found another gear and did not even reach a three-ball count to the final 13 batters he faced, throwing strikes with 33 of his last 44 pitches.
“In the second inning especially, I felt I was rushing too much,” he said. “One thing I’ve been working on is being more patient with my delivery so I can have more control of the ball.
“In the third inning, I stayed more calm, and I started throwing more strikes.”
Even more impressively, Salazar began commanding a fastball that sat at 94-96 miles per hour.
“Every time I have control of my fastball and command of my fastball, I think my change-up and slider are going to be better,” Salazar said.
With the struggles of the Indians’ pitching staff recently, the 27-year-old native of the Dominican Republic could provide a boost.
“For me, I’m ready to join the team,” Salazar said before noting the decision is in the hands of Cleveland’s front office and coaching staff. “What makes me happiest, though, is the way I’m feeling right now.
“I feel healthy and happy.”
Meanwhile, Jackson saw his first game action since the Indians placed him on the disabled list with a strained left quad in late June. The former Tiger and Mud Hen, who hit .304 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 37 games for Cleveland, was 1-for-4 against Toledo on Sunday.
Jackson hit into a double play in the first inning, walked in the third, and struck out in the fifth and ninth. His most important at-bat came in the seventh, when he lined a single to center to score a run as part of a two-run rally.
“I’m just knocking some rust off, trying to get my timing back,” Jackson said. “I’m trying to get in the groove again.
“You try to not put too much in every at-bat.”
Jackson will remain with the Clippers as they return home to begin a series with Buffalo, but he hopes to return to the Indians soon.
“It’s a matter of building up a plan to get back on the field, then building up to playing a full game,” Jackson said.
Salazar and Jackson helped Columbus complete a four- game sweep of the Mud Hens. Salazar and three relievers combined to shut out Toledo for the second game in a row, allowing just four hits and four walks while striking out 12.
“Salazar has nasty stuff,” Toledo manager Mike Rojas said. “He got ahead of hitters and threw well.
“He looks like he’s ready.”
The lack of offense turned Hens starter Myles Jaye into a hard-luck loser.
The right-hander gave up eight hits and one earned run, which came on a home run by Josh Wilson leading off the fifth.
“He got his sinker and breaking ball going, and his fastball had some zip to it,” Rojas said of Jaye, who struck out five. “He did a good job.”
A Toledo error opened the door for two unearned runs in the seventh.
Third baseman Juan Perez misplayed a Wilson grounder for a two-base error and, after an intentional walk, Jackson singled home Wilson.
A passed ball by Bryan Holaday on a pitch by Ruben Alaniz allowed the Clippers to score their final run.
NOTES: The Mud Hens fly to Pawtucket on Monday morning to begin a three-game series. … The Tigers announced that LHP Daniel Norris will make a rehab start for the Hens on Tuesday in place of LHP Matthew Boyd, who will start for Detroit. … Sunday’s crowd of 10,500 was the Mud Hens’ third sellout in as many days, and the 15th sellout at Fifth Third Field this season.
Hens right fielder Jim Adduci goes high in front of the wall to catch a fly ball in the sixth inning. BLADE/JETTA FRASER
Clippers DH Austin Jackson takes a lead off of first base after walking in the third inning as Hens starter Myles Jaye pitches. BLADE/JETTA FRASER