Martinez Blast in 9th Gives Win Away for Tribe; Tigers 4, Indians 2
Mike B. | On 02, Sep 2014
So close, but so far away.
After working around trouble all evening, the Cleveland Indians were just two outs away from evening the series with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday evening behind another fine start from Carlos Carrasco. Instead, J.D. Martinez’s three-run homer off Cody Allen in the top of the ninth saw the Tribe’s near victory disappear in trade for a 4-2 loss at Progressive Field.
The disappointing and devastating loss drops the Indians 5.5 games behind first place Kansas City, who defeated the Texas Rangers this evening. Detroit remains just a half game behind the Royals.
Facing the most potent lineup since his return to the starting rotation, Carrasco battled the vaunted Tigers and worked in and out of jams all evening. It’s the kind of start that he may have floundered in a season ago, but now suddenly thrives in. Carrasco struck out 10 Tigers, getting out of tight spots that could have been scoring opportunities all night.
Carrasco had to work in and out of trouble all night because Kyle Lobstein was nearly as tough on Cleveland hitters. While Carrasco scattered 10 hits, Lobstein only issued five, but Carlos Santana’s two-run homer was enough to give the Indians the lead until the ninth inning.
After falling behind in their drubbing on Monday, the Indians offense attacked quickly on Tuesday. Michael Brantley singled with two outs in the bottom of the first and came trotting around the bases when Carlos Santana homered to right field to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Santana’s 23rd home run gave the Tribe an early lead against the Tigers and Lobstein.
Detroit answered right back in the top of the second off Carrasco, but it could have been much worse. Carrasco gave up three straight singles to Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos to load the bases for Detroit with no one out. Alex Avila walked on a very close pitch, to force in a run and make it 2-1. With the bases still loaded and no one out, Carrasco could have crumbled but instead struck out Eugenio Suarez and Rajai Davis before getting Ian Kinsler to ground out to third base to end the inning. Carrasco weathered the storm and avoided a big inning.
In the fourth inning, Carrasco dodged his second big inning. Suarez singled and Davis doubled with one out, but the hard-throwing, right-hander struck out Kinsler and Torii Hunter to end the inning and strand a pair in scoring position. An inning later, Miguel Cabrera started the frame with a double and Victor Martinez singled to put runners on the corners before Carrasco struck out J.D. Martinez, Castellanos and Avila to end the inning.
Through five innings, Carrasco had struck out 10 Tigers, using it as his best tool to avoid a Detroit scoring threat. Setting down the Tigers with strike outs negated the nine hits in five innings he had allowed. Meanwhile, Lobstein held the Indians to just four hits through five innings. He, too, struck out 10 in five frames.
Carrasco’s luck didn’t run out in the sixth, but his time on the mound did. After retiring the first hitter, Davis singled to center field and Indians manager Terry Francona sent for Scott Atchison. After Kinsler singled, Hunter grounded into a quick double play to end the inning. Carrasco pitched five and one-third innings, allowing one run on 10 hits and a walk, while striking out 10. It might not have been his most dominating start since his return to the rotation, but possibly his best considering the grueling Detroit lineup and Carrasco’s ability to work out of trouble.
Lobstein’s evening ended much the same way as Carrasco in the sixth. After recording an out, Kipnis singled to right field to end the young, left-hander’s evening. Al Alburquerque took over on the mound, but seemed to have no control. Kipnis moved to second base on a wild pitch and pinch-hitter Zach Walters walked. After Lonnie Chisenhall struck out, Tyler Holt walked to load the bases. That prompted Tigers manager Brad Ausmus to summon Blaine Hardy. The southpaw got Michael Bourn to fly out to center field to end the inning and the threat.
Lobstein pitched five and one-third innings, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out 10. His lone mistake was the home run to Santana.
Atchison remained on the mound for the seventh inning, but allowed a double to Victor Martinez and walk to Castellanos with two outs. That forced Francona to bring Bryan Shaw in before his customary eighth inning spot. Shaw got Bryan Holaday to fly out to left field and end the inning. Shaw stayed on to work the eighth inning. Davis reached on an infield hit, but was cut down by Gomes trying to steal second base.
Cody Allen pitched the ninth inning and did not appear to have his best control from the onset. Hunter walked and Cabrera singled up the middle before Victor Martinez flew out for the first out. J.D. Martinez wrecked the evening with 19th home run of the year, a three-run homer into the pine trees in center field. Allen’s second straight blown save gave Detroit a 4-2 lead. C.C. Lee came on to retire the final two outs in the top of the ninth.
Joe Nathan came on to pitch the bottom of the ninth and close out the Indians, earning his 29th save of the season. Brantley singled with two outs to bring Santana to the plate as the tying run, but he flew out to center field to end the game.
Detroit was just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position before J.D. Martinez’s blast. Despite stranding 12 runners on base, the Tigers’ bats found life just in time to steal victory from the Tribe. Cleveland was only 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, but still stranded 10. Of the Indians’ six hits, no Tribesman had more than one. Santana’s homer in the first inning was the biggest and enough to secure the victory.
Wednesday the Indians will try to get back into the series. Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.23) will take the mound for the Feisty Featherheads. Detroit will counter with former Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander (12-11, 4.68).
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images