As if playing two games was not enough excitement for one day, the Indians and Tigers flirted with the possibility of extra innings in the series opener Friday afternoon from Detroit. After twice letting the Tigers tie the game up, Detroit loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a one-run game, but Cleveland reliever Joe Smith got the always-dangerous Miguel Cabrera to line out sharply to Francisco Lindor at short to give the Indians a 3-2 win in game one of the day’s doubleheader.
It was fitting that Lindor retired the final out after coming through with the go-ahead hit in the top of the inning to give the Indians (77-56) their eighth straight win.
Carlos Carrasco and Matt Boyd were the starters on the mound and both were able to keep the scoring to a minimum with four scoreless innings each to start the day. Neither team did much for threatening, aside from a one-out runner at second in the second for the Indians after a double from Edwin Encarnacion. He would be joined on the base paths by Brandon Guyer one out later, but neither would progress further as Boyd got Yan Gomes to ground out.
Things changed in the fifth, when both teams would find their ways to the scoreboard.
Guyer reached base safely with one down on an infield single to second. He moved up to second on a single to right by Gomes and Giovanny Urshela delivered the Indians’ first run of the day with a single to right, scoring Guyer to put Cleveland up, 1-0. With runners on the corners and still only one man out, Lindor worked a walk to load the bases before Austin Jackson struck out and Jose Ramirez flied to right to leave the bags full.
Detroit would work its own rally with two down in the bottom of the frame after Carrasco struck out the first two batters of the inning. James McCann blooped a single into shallow right and JaCoby Jones singled to left. Jose Iglesias sent a double to center to score McCann and put two in scoring position for Ian Kinsler, who grounded to short to end the inning.
The tie game would not last long. Drew VerHagen relieved for the Tigers’ Boyd, but the second pitch of his outing was slugged over the wall in left by Encarnacion to give the Indians the lead right back at 2-1.
The Indians wasted a scoring opportunity in the seventh against reliever Joe Jimenez. Urshela singled for the second time on the afternoon and, after two flyouts, advanced to third on a double by Ramirez. Encarnacion could not deliver this time around, however, as he flied to right to end the threat.
Carrasco was done after seven and turned the one-run lead over to the bullpen, but Bryan Shaw was unable to do so once again for the Tribe. Kinsler was cut down swinging to start the inning before a single by Alex Presley. Cabrera struck out swinging for the second out, but Nicholas Castellanos kept the inning alive with a single to right. Manager Terry Francona turned back to the bullpen for his closer Cody Allen, in search of a four-out save, but Mikie Mahtook sent a slow roller towards short that Lindor could not field cleanly, allowing Presley to score the tying run. Efren Navarro was retired on a flyout to end the inning, but the game was now tied at two.
Tigers closer Shane Greene came out to keep it a tie game, but the Indians got a pair of clutch hits to reclaim the lead. After Greene retired pinch-hitter Abraham Almonte on a liner to short, Jay Bruce grabbed a bat to hit for Urshela and did just that, sending a triple to the gap in right-center. Two pitches later, Lindor singled to center to give Cleveland a 3-2 lead.
The ninth was a rocky one for Allen and he needed some support from one of his bullpen mates to finish the game. McCann started the inning with a bloop single to right. After Jones struck out for the first out, Iglesias singled to center to put the tying and winning runs on base. Kinsler fouled out to Carlos Santana at first base for the second out, but Presley blooped a single in front of Lonnie Chisenhall in left. Pinch-runner Andrew Romine was held up at third to load the bases for the veteran masher Cabrera. Francona returned to the mound and called upon Smith, who got a liner from the Tigers slugger to Lindor at short for the final out.
The Tigers dropped to 58-75 with the loss and are now 31-33 at home this season.
Carrasco worked seven innings of one-run baseball in a tough no-decision. He gave up six hits, but did not walk a batter while battling through a cold. He threw 103 pitches on the afternoon and struck out eight Tigers batters. Allen earned the vulture win, his second of the season despite allowing four hits and an inherited runner to score while being charged with his fourth blown save of the season. Smith needed three pitches to pick up his first save of the season with the Indians this year.
All nine Indians starters found the hit column on Friday. The Tigers had a pair of three-hit games from Iglesias and McCann and two-hit games from Castellanos and Presley. The club was 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position, but stranded ten men.
Cleveland will send right-hander Mike Clevinger (7-5, 3.72 ERA) to the mound against Detroit right-hander Buck Farmer (3-1, 6.17) in game two of the double dip. Clevinger will make his third start of the season against the Tigers and will look to make it three straight quality outings and three straight wins against them. Farmer has made five starts for the Tigers and 21 for their Triple-A affiliate in Toledo this season. He earned the win in his last start for the Tigers, allowing three runs in five and two-thirds innings against the Chicago White Sox.
Game two of the day-night doubleheader is scheduled for a 7:10 PM ET first pitch from Comerica Park.
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