Bats are Silenced as Tigers Edge Tribe; Tigers 2, Indians 1
Bob Toth | On 28, Jul 2018
A two-run home run from JaCoby Jones in the third inning was the difference on Saturday night as the Detroit Tigers slipped past the Cleveland Indians, 2-1.
Offense was at a premium in the middle game from Comerica Park as spot starter Blaine Hardy edged Tribe starter Mike Clevinger, who made the start on Saturday despite dealing with an illness that made his outing questionable up until first pitch. Clevinger gave a solid effort, striking out eight Tigers hitters in five innings of work, but the two runs that he allowed on the Jones’ blast would be too much for the Indians bats to overcome on a frustrating day at the plate.
The Indians took an early lead against Hardy in the second inning after squandering two different base runners in the first. Three straight singles would lead to a run, as Yonder Alonso singled to left, Rajai Davis reached with a base hit to left-center to put runners on the corners, and Jason Kipnis drove in the day’s only run with a bloop single in front of right fielder Nicholas Castellanos to put the Indians up, 1-0. With two on and only one out, the rally was ended when Roberto Perez grounded into a tailor-made double play to leave the Indians with just one run in the threat.
Clevinger had retired the first seven hitters in order before Jose Iglesias became the first Detroit batter to reach base with a ground rule double to left. On the very next pitch, Jones got his hands around on an inside fastball and yanked it over the wall in left into the bullpen to put the Tigers up, 2-1.
Clevinger had to work out of a jam in the fourth. He struck out Niko Goodrum to start the inning before back-to-back singles from Victor Martinez and John Hicks. Staring down a tough situation, Clevinger got out of it on his own, striking out Jim Adduci and Iglesias swinging to strand a pair.
Perez ended a stretch of nine straight retired by Hardy with a two-out walk in the fifth, but Francisco Lindor grounded out to third to end the frame in what was Hardy’s final inning of work.
Cleveland would see a pair of base runners in the sixth and seventh innings, but could not do anything with a man on base. Michael Brantley started the sixth against Drew VerHagen with a single to right, but two outs in the air and a strikeout got the Tigers righty out of it. In the seventh, Kipnis got on board on a two-out error by Goodrum, but Perez grounded into a force to continue a long season of struggling at the plate.
The Indians bullpen dodged another dangerous situation in the seventh that could have broken the game open. Adduci singled and stole second off of reliever Zach McAllister. Iglesias reached on an error by Alonso to put runners on the corners before picking off second. Victor Reyes drew a walk, bringing Terry Francona out from the dugout for Oliver Perez. The lefty got Leonys Martin to pop to first and Neil Ramirez entered and got Jeimer Candelario to fly to right before retiring Castellanos swinging.
The backend of the Tigers bullpen was much better on Saturday night than the night before. Joe Jimenez worked a quiet eighth, walking Jose Ramirez with two outs. In the ninth, Shane Greene shut the door, retiring Brandon Guyer on a fly to center, Alonso on a grounder to short, and pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera on a foul out to third.
The Tigers moved to 45-61 on the season and moved a game over the .500 mark at home this season at 27-26. The Indians’ road woes continued as they dropped to 56-47 on the year and 24-26 away from home.
Clevinger was tabbed with a tough loss, dropping his record to 7-7. Pitching through his illness, he worked five innings and allowed five hits, but limited the Tigers to just the two runs on the Jones homer. He struck out eight and walked one, throwing 54 of his 78 pitches for strikes in an aggressive day on the mound.
Hardy, who got the start for Francisco Liriano, went five innings himself and allowed just one run on four hits. He struck out one and walked a pair, exiting after 74 pitches.
Prior to the game, the Indians placed outfielder Tyler Naquin on the 10-day disabled list with right hip discomfort. Reliever Adam Plutko, who was scheduled to start game two of a doubleheader in Lehigh Valley, was recalled to provide the bullpen with some insurance in the event that Clevinger could not start or could not remain in the game for long because of his condition.
The two teams will meet for one final time at Comerica Park this season on Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 3.97 ERA) will make just his second start against the Indians this season after missing more than a month on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. Cleveland will counter with Corey Kluber (12-6, 2.88), who looks to bounce back from several rough outings over the last month of action while dealing with a right knee injury.
Game time is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET.
Photo: Dave Reginek/Getty Images