There was nothing sweet about home this week and even an influx of Easter candy could not sweeten the Indians chances against the Tigers on Sunday as Detroit took the early season series in Cleveland with a 4-1 victory in the finale.
After erupting for a season-high 13 runs against Justin Verlander and the Tigers bullpen on Saturday evening, the Indians offense returned to its more frustrating ways and could not find home plate. While they put up eight hits on the day and had two more batters reach via walk, the club was just 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six on base. Three separate times they turned opportunities with men on base into double plays, further limiting the team’s ability to do damage to the runs column.
Left-hander Matt Boyd made his first career start and second appearance against the Tribe in the Sunday holiday game. He allowed plenty of ground traffic, yet kept pitching his way out of trouble.
After getting his first of three twin-killings on the day, his offense stepped up with a pair of big two out hits against Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco. Tyler Collins singled to left to start things up and Boyd’s batterymate Alex Avila continued his good weekend with a two-run blast to the bullpens in right-center to give Detroit a 2-0 lead.
When the Indians were not grounding into double plays, they were stranding runners on base. Boyd got through the first two outs of the third before giving up back-to-back singles to Brandon Guyer and Yandy Diaz. Austin Jackson flied to center to end the inning.
Carrasco dodged trouble in the third after a leadoff double from Jose Iglesias and a walk from Ian Kinsler. A fielder’s choice, a strikeout, and a pop up ended the threat. Boyd walked the leadoff man in the fourth as Ramirez worked the free pass, but after an out from Guyer, Diaz grounded into a double play.
It was more of the same in the fifth as Jackson walked before a double play grounder from Yan Gomes. Carlos Santana grounded out to end the inning.
The Indians finally cut into the Tigers lead in the sixth, but missed out on a chance for more in the frame. Francisco Lindor flied to center before Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion each singled. Both runners moved up on a double steal, which came in handy on a Ramirez sacrifice fly to left that drove home Brantley with the first and final run of the game for the Tribe. The next batter, Guyer, struck out with the tying run on second to send the game to the seventh.
Carrasco exited in the middle of the seventh for Bryan Shaw, who would return to the mound in the eighth. Three straight hits off of Shaw padded the Tigers lead as Nicholas Castellanos doubled and Miguel Cabrera singled him home. Victor Martinez singled to right-center before a double play ball from Justin Upton left pinch-runner JaCoby Jones standing at third base with two outs. Zach McAllister came on for manager Terry Francona, but he made the job easy for Detroit as his wild pitch allowed Jones to score to give the Tigers a 4-1 edge.
The Indians went down in order in the eighth against reliever Justin Wilson. In the ninth against closer Francisco Rodriguez, Ramirez doubled with one out but was stranded there as Lonnie Chisenhall flied to center pinch-hitting and Diaz did similar to end the game, earning Rodriguez his fifth save.
Cleveland (5-7) has now gone just 2-7 since its season opening sweep of the Texas Rangers on the road. The disappointing home stand for the Tribe ended at 2-4. The first place Tigers (8-4) got back into the win column and sent a clear message to the Indians that last season is in the past. Last season, they won just one series against Cleveland all season.
BOYD WINS FIRST START AGAINST TRIBE
It was the second consecutive strong start from Boyd, who earned his second win of the season with his victory over the Tribe. He left after six innings and 100 pitches thrown with seven hits allowed and two walks surrendered. He was charged with one run and struck out three.
CABRERA LEAVES EARLY
Cabrera was lifted in the eighth inning after his RBI-single extended the Tigers lead to 3-1. The injury was deemed lower back tightness.
CARRASCO MINIMIZES DAMAGE IN QUALITY START
Carrasco was the recipient of no run support as he took the loss despite allowing just the two runs on the Avila home run. He allowed four hits, including two for extra bases, but was wild at times, walking five while striking out five in earning his first loss of the 2017 season.
LINDOR KEEPS STREAKING
For the second straight game, Lindor extended his hitting streak on his first at bat of the game. He singled to center off of Boyd in the first before being erased on a double play ball. It pushed his consecutive game streak with a hit to ten straight.
He added another single in the contest to go 2-for-4 on the day, pushing his season batting average to .362 through his first 12 games.
KIPNIS A CLIPPER
Rehabbing second baseman Jason Kipnis got some work in again on Sunday with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, going 2-for-4 with a single, an RBI-double, and a strikeout against the Louisville Bats in his second straight game back in the lineup.
Kipnis, who has been nursing a sore shoulder, sat out several days at the end of the week after being plunked on the hand by a pitch from former Indians pitching prospect Justus Sheffield against the New York Yankees’ Double-A Trenton affiliate.
HIT THE ROAD
The Tigers will take Monday off before opening a three-game series in Tampa Bay this week against the Rays. The Indians will hit the road for a seven-game road trip over the next week, beginning first with a four-game layover in Minneapolis to take on the second place Minnesota Twins on Monday before heading to the Windy City for three next weekend with the Chicago White Sox.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images