Early Detroit Miscues Help Tribe To Victory; Indians 3, Tigers 2
By Mike Brandyberry
For once, it wasn’t the Indians making mistakes and giving away runs.
Monday afternoon, the Cleveland Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers 3-2 at Comerica Park. The Indians capitalized on mistakes by Alex Avila early to score runs and got a key sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera in the seventh inning to take the first game of the three game series.
Corey Kluber (1-3) pitched his best game as a big league starter, outdueling the Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez, who has settled into the Detroit rotation. For Kluber, it was his first victory as a big leaguer. Vinnie Pestano earned his second save of the season, despite a scare in the ninth inning.
The Indians scratched their way to an early lead in the top of the first inning when Jason Kipnis singled to centerfield with one out. After Cabrera flied to right field, Michael Brantley grounded through the left side with Kipnis running to put runners on first and third with Russ Canzler at the plate.
With two strikes on Canzler, Sanchez threw an offspeed pitch high and the ball caromed off catcher Avila’s glove. The ball rolled to the backstop and Kipnis was able to hustle home to give the Indians an early 1-0 lead. Canzler struck out looking on the very next pitch to end the inning.
Detroit answered right back, taking advantage of Kluber’s continued first inning woes. Quintin Berry started the inning by grounding deep into the hole at shortstop for an infield hit. After Andy Dirks flied out to left field, Berry stole second base, Miguel Cabrera walked and Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Delmon Young singled through the right side to score Berry and tie the game at one before Brennan Boesch grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Tribe ran their way to another run in the third inning when Shin-Soo Choo led off with a single. After Kipnis popped out to shortstop, Choo stole second and advanced to third base when Avila’s throw sailed into centerfield. Cabrera won a hard-fought battle with Sanchez and singled up the middle to score Choo and give the Tribe a 2-1 lead.
However, the Motor City Kitties scratched back to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth when Young led off with a double to right field, followed by a single to center from Boesch to put runners on the corners with no one out. Jhonny Peralta hit a ball right down the left field line and off the wall to score Young, but Boesch only advanced to second making Peralta’s hit a long single. The base hit tied the game at two, with no one out.
It appeared as if this could become the beginning of Kluber’s unraveling, but instead he settled down to get Avila to ground into a double play and Omar Infante to pop out to shortstop to end the rally and keep the score tied. Kluber did an excellent job to avoid a big rally by Detroit.
Sanchez continued to cruise through the Indians order. Each early run he allowed was unearned, courtesy of mistakes by Avila. However, after six innings and 104 pitches his day would be complete, allowing only the two unearned runs on eight hits, one walk and two strike outs. After a very dismal start to his Tiger career Sanchez has now only allowed five runs over his last three starts.
Darin Downs (1-1) relieved Sanchez in the top of the seventh inning. After retiring pinch hitter Brent Lillibridge, he gave up a base hit to Marson—who then stole second base—followed by a walk to Choo and single to Kipnis to load the bases.
Brayan Villarreal relieved Downs to face Asdrubal Cabrera. After blowing two fastballs at 98 and 99 mph, respectively past Cabrera, he was able to hit a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield allowing Marson to score and give the Indians a 3-2 lead.
With the lead in hand and 95 pitches on the odometer, Kluber also left after six innings, allowing six hits, the two runs—both earned—while walking one and striking out four. It is probably his best performance in his seven starts as a big leaguer this season. Only his August 7 start where he allowed three runs over six innings could rival today’s performance.
Cody Allen worked a scoreless seventh inning, highlighted by Marson throwing out Infante to end the inning. Esmil Rogers handled the eighth inning with the help of a diving stab by Lillibridge to retire Miguel Cabrera for the final out of the inning.
The Indians had a golden opportunity to tack on a run in the top of the ninth inning with runners on the corners and one out, but Kipnis grounded to first base and Fielder was able to tag him running by before throwing home to get Lillibridge in a run down between third and home. Had Kipnis stopped in the base line, Fielder would have had to make a decision between the two runners and the inning would have stayed alive.
Pestano entered in the ninth inning and immediately worked into a jam when Fielder laced a double down the right field line. After Young bounced out in front of the plate, Boesch was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second base with only one out. However, Pestano would prove some mettle as a closer and strike out Jhonny Peralta before getting Avila to ground out to Kipnis with Pestano covering first base for the final out.
“We had PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice) in late August, so I covered that just a couple days ago,” Pestano said.
Pestano recorded his second save of the season, getting the opportunity with Chris Perez on Paternity Leave until after today’s game. It was Pestano’s fifth Major League save in as many chances.
“I feel comfortable in it,” Pestano said. “If I stop putting guys on base it would probably go a lot smoother and save some fans some heart rates back home. I like closing and have always enjoyed it since college and hopefully sometime down the road that will be my role.”
After the game it was announced the Indians have recalled David Huff, Vinny Rottino, Cord Phelps and Scott Maine from Triple-A Columbus. The Clippers’ season eneded Monday afternoon in Toledo and all four should be available on Tuesday, in addition to Perez who should return from Paternity Leave. The current big league roster stands at 33.
Cleveland will try to win their first series since the Indians took two of three from the Tigers in Progressive Field on July 24-26, with Justin Masterson (10-12, 4.91 ERA) facing off against Rick Porcello (9-10, 4.57 ERA). Tuesday’s game is slated for a 7:05 pm start from Detroit with the television broadcast on SportsTime Ohio and radio broadcast on the Indians Radio Network.
Photo: Paul Sancya/AP Photo