Justin Verlander dominated, Miguel Cabrera did too, and the Detroit Tigers pounded the Cleveland pitching staff for a dozen runs on 16 hits in a 12-0 defeat of the Indians on Tuesday night.
A simple look at the Cleveland lineup was a clear and present reminder of what had transpired just one night ago when the club secured the AL Central Division crown in a 7-4 win. After much celebrating, many of the every day starters were given a reprieve, replaced by recent September call-ups from Triple-A Columbus and other bench players, against the tough Verlander. He would cut through the majority of the young Indians lineup with ease to win his first start against the Tribe since 2014.
While the Indians received some okay/good news about two members of the starting rotation in advance of the postseason during the day, Mike Clevinger, looking to be a starter at the back end of the shortened playoff rotation, had a rough day.
Detroit jumped out to a very early lead, just three batters into the bottom of the first. Ian Kinsler drew a leadoff walk and Cameron Maybin doubled before Cabrera plated both with a double deep to the gap in right-center to make it 2-0. Clevinger would get out of a bigger jam that inning after loading the bases on a pair of singles, but he struck out Erick Aybar to end the frame.
A leadoff single in the second from James McCann and a two-out walk from Maybin set the stage for Cabrera again in his second at bat as he blasted his 35th homer of the season to straightaway center field to make it a 5-0 game.
Clevinger would finish the inning, but it would be his final of the night as the Indians turned it over to the bullpen. Perci Garner allowed a run in the fourth on an RBI-single from Kinsler and rookie Adam Plutko, making his second Major League appearance, gave up a three-run homer to Justin Upton in the bottom of the seventh to rip the game open further at 9-0. The next inning, Austin Adams gave up three more on an run-scoring triple by Tyler Collins followed immediately by a two-run homer by Andrew Romine to make it 12-0.
The way Verlander (16-8, 3.10 ERA) pitched on the night, he only needed a run. He sliced up the Tribe all game, holding them to just four hits over seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12 and walking one along the way. Kyle Ryan took over for the final four outs, striking out one in an otherwise uneventful effort.
Erik Gonzalez provided nearly all of the offense for the Indians on the night, getting three hits in three at bats off of Verlander. He entered the night with just one career hit in eleven at bats (his first hit came on July 19 against Kansas City). Brandon Guyer singled, but was caught stealing, while Tyler Naquin drew a walk.
The Indians (91-66) fell to 38-38 on the road this season as their road woes continued, although with the lineup fielded one game after clinching the division, it could have been expected to some degree. The Tigers (84-73) pulled within a game of the Baltimore Orioles for the second AL Wild Card spot, as the O’s lost to Toronto earlier in the night, 5-1.
Clevinger (2-3, 5.33) took his third loss of the season and was unable to make it deep in the contest as the Tigers jumped on him for five runs on seven hits in just two innings. He walked two and struck out two and needed 43 pitches to get through his short outing.
The Indians announced during the game that the MRI done on starter Corey Kluber revealed a right quad strain, as opposed to the feared right groin strain. He is expected to resume baseball activities within the next seven to ten days, lining up just in time for the ALDS.
Danny Salazar threw off of the mound again as he continues to build his way back up to potentially contributing in the playoffs, possibly earlier.
The Indians and Tigers will play game 18 of the season series on Wednesday night in a 7:10 PM start. Cleveland holds a 14-3 advantage thus far this year.
The original scheduled starter for Cleveland, Trevor Bauer, has been scrapped as the club will instead throw Zach McAllister (3-2, 3.58) in what will amount to another bullpen game for the club. It will be his second start of the season and third in the last two years.
Detroit will counter with rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer (11-7, 2.95), who has at times struggled this season with the Indians. He is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts against Cleveland with a 1.81 WHIP and .349 batting average against.
Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images
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Let’s GO Tribe!!!! It’s not over yet!!
Darn right. Things are just getting started. Back on that home field advantage hunt tonight. Last five games still have meaning! – Bob T.