Cleveland coupled a three-run fourth inning with six innings from a sick Carlos Carrasco and strong, if not a little shaky at the end, bullpen work as the Indians held off the Detroit Tigers, 3-2, on Wednesday night.
The Indians were staring down another left-hander starter in Matt Boyd, who had already defeated the Tribe back in April at Progressive Field. While Boyd was good, so too was the ill Carrasco, who had dealt with a sickness and an accompanying fever throughout the day but was able to give the Indians six innings of two-run baseball. A big inning from the Cleveland bats in the fourth would provide all of the scoring on the night for the club and Carrasco, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen would make it stand when the final out was retired.
Things were generally quiet through the first ten batters combined between the two clubs as each was retired without issue. The fifth Tiger to bat, Justin Upton, singled with one out in the second but was stranded there on back-to-back strikeouts from Carrasco. The Indians got their first base runner the next half inning on a walk by Yan Gomes with two outs, but he was stranded on a fly out by Carlos Santana.
The Tigers threatened against Carrasco in the home half of the third as Jose Iglesias doubled to left and moved to third on a one-out groundout from Ian Kinsler, but Nicholas Castellanos flied to right to leave the runner put.
The Indians made the Tigers pay for their missed opportunity by striking for three in the next half inning. Francisco Lindor reached on an infield single and moved to second on a single by Michael Brantley. Boyd struck out Edwin Encarnacion swinging, but Jose Ramirez drove the second pitch of his second at bat deep to right-center field. Center fielder Tyler Collins dove but was well short of the drive, which went to the wall for a two-run triple to put the Tribe on top, 2-0. A sacrifice fly on the next pitch to Jason Kipnis extended that lead to three.
Carrasco was aided by a double play ball in the fourth, but was not as lucky in the fifth. Collins walked and moved to second on a fly out by Alex Avila. A single to center from Jim Adduci made it a 3-1 game.
The Tigers made it a one-run ball game after Boyd stranded a pair of Indians on the corners in the top of the sixth. Castellanos doubled to right and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Miguel Cabrera lined to right. Victor Martinez drove the run home with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a 3-2 ball game. Carrasco struck out Upton swinging to end the inning and his night.
Miller came on the seventh for Carrasco and struck out a pair in the inning around an infield single from Adduci. Boyd started the eighth and was lifted after walking Encarnacion with two outs, but Kipnis flied to right after reliever Blaine Hardy walked Ramirez on four straight to put two on.
Miller returned for the bottom of the eighth, striking out Andrew Romine before a line out by Castellanos. In a key matchup in the ball game, he struck out Cabrera looking after the big slugger fouled off several pitches with a chance to tie the game with one swing.
The game got a little interesting for the Tribe in the bottom of the ninth as Allen came on for the save. He walked Martinez on four pitches to start the inning. After a strikeout of Upton swinging on a curve in the dirt, Allen walked James McCann on four straight, moving the potential tying run in pinch-runner Dixon Machado into scoring position. A fly by Mikie Mahtook to right advanced Machado to third, but Allen struck out Adduci looking on a 2-2 pitch to earn his seventh save in seven chances on the season.
With the win, the Indians improved to 15-12 and broke a tie with the Tigers in the AL Central standings. The Tigers dropped to 14-13 and are now 9-7 at Comerica Park this season.
Carrasco (3-2, 2.18 ERA) battled illness to give the Indians six strong innings in a quality start while earning his third win of the season. After going a pair of eight-inning outings in his previous two starts, he still gave the Indians pitching staff some length after a short start from the rotation in the second game of the series.
Carrasco allowed two runs on five hits, walked one batter, and struck out five on the night. He made just 91 pitches, with 60 of them coming for strikes.
The left-hander Boyd (2-2, 3.78) pitched well enough to win, but one inning of damage proved to be too much for his offense to overcome thanks to the well-pitched game from the Indians staff.
He allowed the three fourth inning runs on five hits total over seven and two-thirds innings. He walked three and struck out four on the night.
KLUBER LANDS ON DL
Prior to the ball game, the Indians placed starting pitcher Corey Kluber on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain. Reliever Joseph Colon was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take his spot on the 25-man roster.
Kluber had been dealing with the issue for his last few starts, but was unable to pitch through it on Tuesday night when he was hit for five runs in three innings of work in his shortest outing since last May. The hope is that he will miss only his next start on Sunday and would be healthy and eligible to return from the DL next Saturday when the Indians host the Minnesota Twins in an afternoon game from Progressive Field.
GOING FOR THE SPLIT
The Indians improved their season record against the Tigers to 2-4 after dropping the first two games of their ten-game road trip. They will go for the series split on Thursday when the Tigers host the club in an afternoon getaway day finale.
Cleveland will send right-hander Danny Salazar (2-2, 4.34) to the mound in search of his third W of the season. He will also be aiming to improve his career record against the Tigers to 4-4 as he makes his 13th career start against Detroit in the ball game. He has a 4.58 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP through his first dozen games with them. Detroit will send the reigning American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer (2-1, 3.19) to the mound to try to claim a second straight series win over Cleveland. The right-hander, like Salazar, will be looking for his third win of the 2017 campaign. He had a tough time with the Tribe last season, going 1-2 against them in four starts with a 6.98 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP, the worst ERA mark that he has against any of the 14 teams that he has faced so far in his brief Major League career.
The series finale and the last meeting between the Indians and Tigers until June 30 in Detroit is scheduled for a 1:10 PM ET first pitch.
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