MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Tribe bats at home in dome; Salazar sharp

Tribe bats at home in dome; Salazar sharp

SAN ANTONIO -- Playing far from their spring Arizona homes, with quirky conditions inside of a domed football stadium, the Indians and Rangers opened their two-game Big League Weekend series at the Alamodome on Friday night with a low-scoring affair that the Tribe won, 3-2.

Big League Weekend, an annual mid-March tradition in San Antonio, included an expected barrage of home runs in a stadium known for its homer-friendliness, amplified by a 272-foot right-field wall. The odd measurement can work against left-handed hitters, who sometimes become pull-happy while aiming for the short porch and end up hitting harmless fly balls. Such was not the case during this game.

A.J. Griffin was only a few pitches into his outing when Lonnie Chisenhall and Abraham Almonte went back-to-back, hitting home runs in the same general area in right -- sure outs in any Major League ballpark.

Chisenhall's solo homer

"When you hit it, it's not undeserving, because it's the ballpark we're in," Chisenhall said, grinning. "It was one of the weaker home runs I've ever hit. That was my approach today -- try to hit the ball to right field somewhere, take advantage of it."

Tribe catcher Erik Kratz added a solo shot off Griffin to lead off the second.

Kratz's solo smash

Homers aside, pitchers on both sides saw positive results. Griffin, auditioning for a spot in the Rangers' rotation, issued no walks and struck out four during five innings.

"I feel really good right now," Griffin said. "I built off the last outing, the four innings out in Surprise. I feel like I've got good command of all my pitches right now, throwing them all for strikes, mixing them up, keeping guys off-balance. For me, that's a recipe for success."

Griffin strengthens case for rotation spot

Danny Salazar, who entered this outing with the fourth-highest strikeout total in the Cactus League, added nine more punchouts, bringing his spring total to 23 over 15 1/3 innings.

"I was being aggressive, trying to throw my fastball down," Salazar said, adding that he did not think about the odd right-field dimensions during the outing. "If I have my fastball there, my changeup's going to be there. That's my second-best pitch."

Salazar on his spring outing

Tribe manager Terry Francona was pleased to see Salazar's progress with Opening Day less than three weeks away.

"This is when they start to use all their pitches," he said. "You want to see their stamina, their
legs keeping under them. I thought he stayed in his delivery the whole time. He looked real strong."

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The Rangers scored twice in the third, behind two tailor-made Alamodome doubles.

Nomar Mazara's fly ball in the third was high enough that it sailed over the catwalk a few feet from the ceiling. The ball's descent created confusion for Indians outfielders and instead dropped in shallow left, allowing Delino DeShields to score from first.

Mazara scored on a double by Mike Napoli that also may have hit something near the ceiling, causing it to bounce out of reach in right field.

Napoli's peculiar RBI double

WHAT'S NEXT
Indians: The Indians have more split-squad action coming on Saturday, with half the club remaining in San Antonio for the second and final game of their Big League Weekend matchup with the Rangers at the Alamodome at 3:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Mike Clevinger, who is vying for a spot in an already crowded rotation, will take the mound for the Tribe. Lefty Shawn Morimando, who is likely ticketed for the Triple-A Columbus rotation, is scheduled to start for the Tribe in a 4:05 p.m. ET Cactus League tilt against the Royals on Saturday at Goodyear Ballpark (watch both games live on MLB.TV).

Rangers: The Rangers have two games on Saturday with Yu Darvish pitching against the Reds at 3:05 p.m. CT in Goodyear, Ariz. Darvish is down for five innings and 75-80 pitches. Dillon Gee will face the Indians in San Antonio at 2:05 p.m. CT (live on MLB.TV). The 30-year-old right-hander from Cleburne, Texas, has made a good case for a spot in the rotation this spring, compiling a 1.29 ERA over three appearances.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.