Saturday night was a little touch of the past, with a dose of reality.
On the night the Indians inducted Omar Vizquel into their Hall of Fame, Progressive Field—the home of the most walkoff wins in the last 20 years—almost saw another memorable come back, but despite a ninth inning rally from the Tribe the Detroit Tigers pulled out a 5-4 victory in 10 innings. Victor Martinez had two hits, each driving in a run, including a home run to help the Tigers take the lead. Miguel Cabrera issued the final blow, a double in the top of the 10th inning off Cody Allen. The 40,712 fans in attendance made for Cleveland’s second sellout of the season. What they saw was that the Tribe still trails the Tigers on the field and in the standings.
Coming into the game, it looked as if starters Trevor Bauer and Justin Verlander were two trains passing in the night. Bauer, coming off a solid start, seems to be finding his place in the Indians’ rotation, while Verlander has struggled over his last six starts. But Bauer was stung by three, solo home runs while Verlander settled down and allowed just four hits over seven innings. Each did not receive a decision.
Both teams tallied a run in the second inning to start the scoring in the evening’s game. Detroit scored a run in the top half of the frame when former-Indian Victor Martinez homered to right field. The solo blast was Martinez’s 19th homer of the season. Cleveland answered right back in the bottom half of the inning when Lonnie Chisenhall hit a two-out double and scored on a ball hit by Nick Swisher that bounced of Ian Kinsler’s glove. It could have easily been ruled a double, but instead was charged an error, however Cleveland tied the game at one.
Cleveland took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning off Verlander when Carlos Santana lofted his 11th home run of the season into the seats in right field. The ball just stretched past right fielder, J.D. Martinez’s glove and into the crowd. The blast gave the Tribe a 2-1 lead.
But Detroit battled back against Bauer and the Indians to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning. Miguel Cabrera started the inning with a double to deep center field and hustled home a hitter later when Victor Martinez again drove in a run. This time a single to center field was enough for his 49th run batted in on the season and to tie the game at 2-2. Bauer could have found himself in more trouble during the inning, if not for David Murphy’s running, over-the-shoulder catch in right center field on Nick Castellanos’s drive to the gap.
The Tigers re-took the lead in the seventh inning, courtesy of the long ball again. After Bauer retired the first hitter, Rajai Davis jerked a solo home run down the left field line and Kinsler followed to make it back-to-back homers with a shot just over the wall in left center field. Indians manager Terry Francona challenged the home run call on Kinsler’s ball, but replay confirmed it cleared the yellow line.
That ended Bauer’s evening, pitching six and one-third innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out five. Bauer’s final seven pitches, of his 102 on the night, did his start in. His three home runs allowed were the difference in the game. Scott Atchison retired the final two outs of the seventh and pitched a three-up, three-down eighth inning.
Meanwhile, Verlander settled in and controlled the game as it progressed. After Santana’s homer in the fourth inning, he allowed just one more hit—a single to Asdrubal Cabrera in the fifth inning—and retired the final seven batters he faced. Verlander pitched seven innings, allowing two runs—just one earned—on four hits and a walk while striking out eight. It was a bounce back start for Verlander, who had lost five of his last six starts. His eight strike outs tied a season high for Verlander.
Al Alburquerque came on in relief of Verlander and the Indians’ offense immediately ignited. Alburquerque hit Bourn with the pitch to start the inning, then gave up a double to Cabrera. Bourn was running with the pitch and came all the way around to score from first base and cut the Tribe deficit to 4-3.
Left-hander Blaine Hardy was summoned from the Tigers’ bullpen with the Tribe having the tying run in scoring position. Michael Brantley grounded up the middle to move Cabrera to third base with just one out. However, Jason Kipnis grounded weakly to third base and the drawn in infield kept Cabrera at third. Santana scorched a grounder to third, but Castellanos stabbed the smash and threw to first to end the inning and the Tribe’s chance to tie the game.
Kyle Crockett struck out Alex Avila to start the ninth inning before giving way to Vinnie Pestano. Pestano retired both hitters he faced. Joe Nathan came on for Detroit and despite retiring the first two hitters of the inning, could not convert the save.
Three straight hitters, Nathan had the Indians down to their last strike, but Murphy singled to left field, then advanced to third base on Yan Gomes’s single to left. Bourn battled through a rough at-bat to line a third straight single to left field and Cleveland tied the game at 4-4 after nine innings.
Allen (3-2) came on to pitch the 10th inning for Cleveland, but could not hold the Tigers’ offense in check. Kinsler started the inning with a single to center field. Austin Jackson bunted him into scoring position so that he could score easily when Miguel Cabrera doubled off the center field wall, giving Detroit the final 5-4 lead. Despite his poor ninth inning, Nathan (4-2) earned the win for the Tigers.
Phil Coke came on to pitch the bottom of the 10th, locking down the Tribe where Nathan could not. Coke earned his first save of the season and Detroit’s second win in the series.
Sunday, the Indians will try to salvage a game in the series and avoid a sweep at the hands of Detroit. Cleveland will send Josh Tomlin (4-4, 3.86) against Detroit’s ace, and defending American League Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer (8-3, 3.84).
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images