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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | December 17, 2017

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Game #98: Detroit Tigers (52-45) at Cleveland Indians (49-48)

By Mike Brandyberry

Tuesday evening the Indians used six dominant innings from Ubaldo Jimenez and a squeeze play bunt by Aaron Cunningham to defeat the Tigers, 3-2. While the game is just one of 162 on the schedule, the three game series has an extra importance in the Tribe’s playoff hopes. This series could determine if the Indians are buyers or sellers before the trade deadline next Tuesday. Last night’s game already had a playoff feel intensity.

The Indians now trail both Detroit and the Chicago White Sox by three games in the American League Central Division standings. The next two games against the Tigers still hold a major determination upon which direction the Indians will go for the rest of the season. Cleveland could be as far as five games out by Friday morning, or within a game or two. The Indians are only 3.5 games back in the wild card race, but have four teams in front of them vying for the final spot.

Tonight the Indians send Derek Lowe (8-8, 5.04 ERA) to the mound to try and take the second game from the Tigers. Lowe might not just be pitching for the Tribe’s playoff hopes, but his own individual spot in the rotation. After a strong six week start to the season, Lowe has wilted in the summer heat. He has lost five of his last six decisions and has won just two of his last 11 starts. In his last 11 starts Lowe has been 2-7, with a 7.76 ERA. His last start was one of the bumpiest, allowing five doubles and two home runs to the Orioles in three innings last Friday in a 10-2 defeat.

Detroit will send Max Scherzer (9-5, 4.61 ERA) to try and stifle the Indians this evening. Scherzer is 3-0, with a 2.88 ERA in his last four starts, including striking out nine in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels. However, the Indians seem to have the Scherzer’s number. Despite his recent dominance, Scherzer is 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA in four lifetime starts at Progressive Field. He gave up five runs in six and two-third innings in an April 29 start this season against the Tribe.

Roberto Hernandez will throw in his first rehabilitation start on Thursday evening at Lake County. Hernandez, who is currently suspended for three weeks, will throw 4-5 innings at the Low-A level and will not exceed 75 pitches. Hernandez just received his visa to enter the United States on Saturday after using a false identity for the last decade. He threw a 30-pitch bullpen on Monday and is expected to throw rehab stints every fifth day until he is eligible to be reinstated on August 11.

Yesterday the Indians acquired Brent Lillibridge from the Boston Red Sox. He has reported to Cleveland and is on the active roster this evening. To make room for him the Indians have designated Cunningham for assignment. Lillibridge can play all over the field, while Cunningham is only an outfielder. It is expected Lillibridge will be able to give middle infielders time off and fill Cunningham’s late-inning, defensive replacement role in left field. Ironic that Cunningham’s greatest contribution to the season could be in his final game.

All the game action begins at 7:05 pm from Progressive Field this evening. The game can be seen on WKYC-3 or heard on WTAM and the rest of the Indians Radio Network as the team still tries to fight their way into the playoff race.

Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Jason Kipnis, 2B
4. Michael Brantley, CF
5. Carlos Santana, C
6. Travis Hafner, DH
7. Johnny Damon, LF
8. Casey Kotchman, 1B
9. Jack Hannahan, 3B

Detroit Tigers Starting Lineup
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Quintin Berry, LF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Delmon Young, DH
6. Brennan Boesch, RF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Omar Infante, 2B

Photo: AP Photo/Dave Einsel