Perhaps it was a change of scenery that the Tribe needed in the third of their four-game series against Detroit. And, perhaps that change of scenery came in the form of Danny Salazar on the mound. However, despite having a new – and promising – pitcher on the mound and an attempt at a comeback in the fourteenth inning, the Tribe was unable to rally in a late loss to the Tigers, 6-5.
Salazar’s start in place of Ubaldo Jimenez has been a hot topic of conversation since it was announced, and tonight Salazar proved he should still be on the minds of Clevelanders. Despite some struggles in the top of the second inning, Salazar cruised through most of his pitches, proving to be more than a good match against Detroit’s Doug Fister.
A smooth first inning had the Tigers going down in order, including a noteworthy strikeout of Miguel Cabrera. Nine of the first ten pitches thrown by Salazar reached a velocity of 95 to 99 mph.
The hard-throwing pitcher faced a bit of trouble in the second inning, as Victor Martinez singled on a line drive to Nick Swisher in right field. Although Prince Fielder and Don Kelly both struck out swinging, Brayan Pena singled to send Martinez to third and Salazar issued his first walk of the game to Ramon Santiago to load the bases with two outs. Joe Iglesias singled to Michael Bourn in center, a hit which scored Martinez. Pena attempted to score as well, but was thrown out at the plate.
With the score 1-0 Detroit, the Indians had a scoreless bottom of the second. Salazar appeared not to be frazzled by the trouble he faced in the second inning, as he struck out the side in the top of the third. Drawing on Salazar’s success, Yan Gomes started the bottom of the third with a home run to left field, tying the game at 1-1.
Fister continued to throw pitches to benefit the Tribe, as he walked Bourn and then faced Swisher. Swisher hit a fly ball to left field, which resulted in an RBI double, sending Bourn home and giving the Indians a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth.
Detroit had another three batters up, three batters down in the top of the fourth. The Indians continued their positive plate appearances with Michael Brantley delivering a double to start the bottom of the fourth. Gomes was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second with two outs in the inning. Mike Aviles hit a ground ball into a force out, ending the inning before the Tribe could put more runs on the board.
Following a ten-pitch top of the fifth, Swisher had his second hit of the night, delivering a single with one out. Cleveland kept their lead at 2-1, though a single form Jason Kipnis sent Swisher to second. In the fifth inning, Fister had already thrown over 80 pitches, while Salazar headed into the sixth having only throw 60.
A change-up thrown by Salazar in the sixth was capitalized on by Austin Jackson, who hit a game-tying home run to left field. In redemption, however, Salazar delivered Cabrera’s third strike out of the night, making him the only Major League pitcher to strike Cabrera out that many times in one game. Prince Fielder popped out to Aviles at third, ending the top of the sixth with the score still even at two.
Brantley led off the sixth inning with shot down the middle that ricocheted off Fister, allowing Brantley to reach first safely. Brantley was thrown out at second in an attempted steal, breaking the Indians streak of 13 consecutive stolen bases. Despite Jason Giambi reaching first after striking out swinging on a wild pitch from Fister, the Indians could not score any further runs in the sixth.
With a under at third in the top of the seventh, Salazar struck out Santiago to end the inning and keep the score tied at two.
Aviles delivered a leadoff double off Detroit’s Al Alburquerque, replacing Fister, to start the bottom of the seventh inning. With his 22nd double of the season, Swisher sent Aviles home to give the Indians a 3-2 lead with one out. Drew Smyly replaced Alburquerque following Swisher’s hit, and Drew Stubbs entered the game for Swisher.
The trouble began in the eighth inning, in which Salazar remained despite being at his 75-85 pitch limit he had in the minors. He gave up a single to Torri Hunter with two outs before breaking his strike out streak against Cabrera, who delivered a home run to center field, raising the score to 4-2 Detroit. Salazar exited the game following Cabrera’s home run, with a final line of 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, and 10 SO in 7.2 IP.
Rich Hill replaced Salazar, allowing a single from Fielder before striking out Martinez.
Brantley went 3-3 when slivering his second double of the game to start the bottom of the eighth. He advanced to third on a double by Carlos Santana, and scored on a groundout from Gomes, making the game tied again at four. Gomes’ hit brought Santana to third, although he did not score and the inning ends with the score 4-4 heading into the ninth.
Hill continued into the ninth, walking Don Kelly and allowing a single from Pena before Cody Allen came to the mound. Despite loading the bases after intentionally walking Andy Dirks, Stubbs made two stellar plays in right field to prevent the Tigers from earning a lead.
The game continued in a 4-4 tie after the Indians were retired in order in the bottom of the ninth, taking the Tribe into extra innings.
Chris Perez came on in the tenth inning, his first appearance since the blown save in the Detroit series opener on Monday, allowing the leadoff hitter, Hernan Perez, to reach first following a strike-out wild pitch to start the inning. Fielder was called out on strikes swinging, with Perez then getting picked off at first on an attempted steal. Stubbs made another catch on the track on a hit from Kelly to end the top of the tenth with game still locked at 4-4.
The game headed into the eleventh, with Joe Smith pitching a scoreless eleventh inning. Jeremy Bonderman pitched a scoreless eleventh for Detroit in his first appearance for Detroit since October 2010. Bryan Shaw pitched in the twelfth, walking Fielder but not allowing any runs to score. A base hit from Stubbs in the bottom of the twelfth did not come not fruition for the Tribe, as they headed into the thirteenth inning still tied at four. The thirteenth proved scoreless for both sides, as well, and the fourteenth showed Shaw coming back for his third inning of relief on the night. Following a double from Jackson, who advanced to third on a sac fly from Hunter, Shaw walked Perez to put runners at the corners with only one out. Marc Rzepczynski replaced Shaw, who immediately gave up a double to Fielder to score Jackson and Perez, giving Detroit a 6-4 lead.
Rzepczynski intentionally walked Martinez to bring up Kelly, who grounded into a double play. With a two-run lead, the game headed into the bottom of the fourteenth, where Joaquin Benoit retired Lonnie Chisenhall and Gomes before allowing a single from Aviles. Michael Bourn, 2-13 in this series, delivered a double to score Aviles and bring the score to 6-5 Detroit. Stubbs was unable to bring the tying run home, giving the Tigers the win and a six-game lead in the American League Central Division.
The Tribe completes their series against the Tigers tomorrow night at Progressive Field. It will be a matchup between Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer (16-1, 2.85) and Indians righty Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.47). The game begins at 7:05 p.m.
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