For five innings, Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann resembled the pitcher that he was for years with the Washington Nationals. In the sixth inning, it all crumbled apart as Cleveland put up four runs to take the lead and Carlos Carrasco, Cody Allen, and Andrew Miller held that edge to the finish as the Indians took Saturday’s second game in a 4-1 win over the Tigers.
The Indians had little to show through the first half of the nightcap with the Tigers, as the offense had been relatively quiet all day long, outside of a big inning in their 7-4 loss earlier in the day. Zimmermann had moved easily through the first five innings, facing two over the minimum while allowing just three base runners total. He walked Lonnie Chisenhall in the second, allowed a one-out single to Michael Brantley in the fourth, and plunked Carlos Santana in the fifth in retaliation for a hit batter by Carrasco the previous half inning, before erasing him on a double play ball.
Carrasco worked some magic to allow just one run though the early going as he did not set the Tigers down in order until the fifth. Detroit took an early lead in the second and with the way Zimmermann was pitching, things were not looking hopeful for the Tribe. Nicholas Castellanos doubled to lead off the inning and after a pop out by Victor Martinez, Mikie Mahtook singled him home to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Detroit threatened again in the third. Alex Avila walked with one out and J.D. Martinez moved him to second with a single to center. Carrasco handled his business from there, striking out Miguel Cabrera looking and Castellanos swinging to dodge a big bullet.
Two more reached in the fourth as things got a bit chippy. With one down, Mahtook doubled to center. Andrew Romine flied out for the second out before Jose Iglesias, who hit a key double in the first game of the day, was hit by a 1-1 pitch. Carrasco lost his command and nearly plunked Ian Kinsler to follow, but was able to avoid contact with Kinsler and instead found it with his bat, getting the second baseman to ground to short to end the inning.
Zimmermann threw behind Santana with the first pitch of his at bat and grazed him after getting Chisenhall to pop up. Santana had homered in the first game to tie the game at four before the Tigers rallied off of Indians reliever Bryan Shaw. Detroit backstop James McCann had also been hit twice in the first game. Tempers flared and Santana motioned to the mound, leading to the benches clearing and both clubs receiving warnings, but the only fireworks to occur would come the next inning for Cleveland.
Roberto Perez started the sixth with a single to right and moved to third on a double by Jason Kipnis. Francisco Lindor struck out for the third time in the nightcap against the Detroit starter before Brantley knocked in the tying run with a grounder to second. Edwin Encarnacion followed by dropping a Zimmermann 3-2 pitch into right, driving home Kipnis from third to give the Indians their first lead of the night. The very next pitch exited stage right as Jose Ramirez doubled the Tribe’s run total with a two-run shot, making it a 4-1 lead and sending Zimmermann to the showers to cool off.
After the bean ball of Iglesias, Carrasco settled down to retire the final ten batters that he faced, including strikeouts of the last two batters that he would face on the night. Allen took the mound in the eighth, walking Avila to start the frame before getting two big strikeouts of Martinez and Cabrera and a fly out from Castellanos. Miller came on for the ninth and blew by his former club, needing just eight pitches (and a little help on an incredible diving catch by Bradley Zimmer) to earn his second save of the season.
QUALITY STUFF FROM CARRASCO
Carrasco (9-3, 3.50 ERA) earned his ninth win of the season and did so in deserving fashion. He worked seven strong innings, allowing just the one early run on four hits. He walked one and struck out seven while working out of several early jams on the night. His attack was well balanced, as in addition to the seven Ks, he got six balls for outs on the ground and eight in the air. He threw 114 pitches in the game, including 75 for strikes, and had more swinging strikes than called strikes.
ZIMMERMANN STUMBLES LATE
For five innings, Zimmermann (5-6, 5.58) was looking like a front of the rotation pitcher and not a starter with a .500 record and an ERA in the mid fives coming in. But after handling the Indians with just three base runners allowed, it fell apart with the quick attack by the Tribe in the sixth. While he contained the Indians in the early going, he was not fooling them much, as just seven of the 94 pitches that he threw were swung on and missed by the Indians. He was able to get Lindor to strike out three times, and three of those swing and misses by Indians came by the struggling Indians shortstop.
NO NEED FOR 26TH MEN
Neither club called upon the services of their 26th men called up for the doubleheader.
The Indians added left-handed starter Ryan Merritt to the roster on Saturday. He was initially set to factor in what was supposed to be a bullpen game for the club in the nightcap, but Friday’s rainout allowed Josh Tomlin to be bumped back to Saturday, giving the team two starters to utilize.
Detroit also added a lefty in Matt Boyd, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday’s nightcap. Just as was the case for the Indians, Friday’s washout allowed Anibal Sanchez to be pushed back to make a game one start for the doubleheader.
MIKIE MAKES HIS MARK
Mahtook had himself a nice effort on Saturday, as he went 2-for-4 in both games of the doubleheader with an RBI in each outing. His four hits very easily could have been six, but he was robbed in both games by incredible diving catches in center field by the Indians rookie Zimmer.
“That’s one of the best plays I’ve seen all year,” shared Indians manager Terry Francona following the game of Zimmer’s ninth inning Superman leap in center. “After a long day at the ballpark, that was really fun to watch.”
The Tigers were without the services of outfielder Justin Upton for both games of the doubleheader after being a late scratch in the first game with right side soreness.
Indians minor league reliever Joe Colon, a member of the 40-man roster who spent part of a week with the club in May, was suspended for the remainder of the 2017 season for violations of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment program for a positive test for selective Androgen receptor modulator LDG-4022.
He had appeared in 28 games for the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus affiliate, posting no record with a 4.13 ERA this season.
The three-game short set comes to a conclusion on Sunday with a 1:10 PM ET start from Comerica Park.
Justin Verlander (5-4, 4.47) will be the first to the mound in the contest as he looks to build off of a better outing against the Indians his last time out than his first one this season. The Indians will call upon second-year right-hander Mike Clevinger (3-3, 3.56), who is coming off of the best start of his career in his last outing against Texas, when he allowed just one run on two hits with a career-high nine strikeouts in six innings of a no-decision.
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