Tigers Rally for Six Unanswered as Indians Implode Again; Tigers 9, Indians 8
Bob Toth | On 15, May 2018
Cleveland sports fans are going to want a do-over of Tuesday’s efforts.
While the NBA’s Cavs were falling two games behind the Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals from Boston, the Indians blew two separate four-run leads and a five-run edge later, squandered several bases loaded opportunities, and saw the bullpen implode again in the late innings as a big lead turned into a close game and ended in disaster, as the Detroit Tigers rallied several times and scored the final six runs to win an ugly 9-8 final from Comerica Park.
Some games are hard to recap and Tuesday was a prime example. The Indians (20-21) got off to a great start in the first inning, giving Josh Tomlin plenty of support before he even took the mound. Given the fact that he had not pitched since May 4 and that he has been home-run-happy this season, a big early lead seemed imperative for the Tribe to have any sort of shot at success in the Motor City. They got it, but it would not be enough.
Francisco Liriano’s struggles with the walks continued and they came back to bite him hard. Rajai Davis started the game with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Birthday boy Michael Brantley walked before a pop out by Jose Ramirez. Davis stole third before Francisco Lindor walked for the first of four times on the night to load the bases. Yan Gomes struck out on three pitches, but Brandon Guyer salvaged the inning with one swing, sending a screaming liner into the left field bullpen for his first career grand slam, giving the Tribe a 4-0 lead.
Even with Tomlin on the mound, it should have been enough cushion, but it was not and it was evident from the first batter of the home half. JaCoby Jones started the Tigers’ offensive efforts with a solo homer to left on the third pitch of the game, cutting the Indians lead to 4-1.
An unexpected blast from Erik Gonzalez leading off the second got the run right back. On the seventh pitch of his at bat, he barreled up a ball and lined it deep over the bullpen in left to extend the Indians lead to 5-1 with just the fifth homer allowed on the year by the Tigers’ lefty.
Tomlin kept things relatively contained after the first inning homer to Jones. He retired seven straight, including three in a row on strikeouts, before Dixon Machado reached on an infield single off of Tomlin’s shoe in the third. He would be doubled up on bad base running, appearing to lose track of the outs on a fly out to center. Tomlin retired the side in order in the fourth before scoring returned for both clubs.
After the Indians stranded runners on the corners with one out in the fifth, chasing Liriano from the ball game after just four and one-third innings of work, the Tigers cut into the deficit with two runs. Monday night’s hero, Niko Goodrum, singled to start the inning, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by John Hicks. He moved to third on a double to left by James McCann. Hicks scored the second run on a groundout by Jose Iglesias, making it a 5-3 game.
The Indians responded with a big sixth inning. Jason Kipnis walked to start the frame against Zac Reininger. Pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso moved him up to second with a single. Greg Allen’s sacrifice attempt backfired as Kipnis was gunned down at third on the front end. Davis made up for it with a two-run double to left, scoring Alonso and Allen to make it a 7-3 game. Brantley walked again to put two on for Ramirez and the extra base machine dropped in a double to right to score Davis to make it 8-3. Lindor stepped up with two in scoring position and was intentionally walked, but Gomes popped out and Guyer lined out to leave the bags full.
Nicholas Castellanos ended Tomlin’s night with one out in the sixth, taking the Tribe starter deep to left to make it an 8-4 game in his first game back after a variety of ailments and illness kept him off of the field for much of the last week and a half. Tyler Olson stopped the bleeding, retiring a pair.
The Indians got runners on the corners to start the seventh against Louis Coleman, but could not score. Kipnis singled and Alonso doubled, but Allen grounded out, Kipnis was thrown out at the plate, and Brantley grounded out with runners on second and third.
The wasted opportunities throughout the game would come to a head in the bottom of the seventh, when everything imploded for the Tribe. Dan Otero gave up a single to Hicks and an RBI-double to McCann to make it 8-5. Iglesias grounded McCann to third and he would score on a fielder’s choice by Machado to make it 8-6 as Gomes could not corral Lindor’s throw. Andrew Miller came on, but back-to-back doubles from Jones and Pete Kozma scored Machado and Jones to tie the game at 8-8. Miller got Castellanos to line to left for the second out, but a walk to the slumping Victor Martinez and another to Goodrum loaded the bases. Hicks walked on five pitches to force in the go-ahead and, ultimately, the winning run, giving the Tigers a 9-8 lead. Neil Ramirez, making his Indians debut, struck out the eleventh man to bat, McCann, to leave the bases full of kitties.
The Indians loaded the bases against Daniel Stumpf in the eighth after a leadoff double by Ramirez (his third hit of the game and second two-bagger) and walks by Lindor and Gomes. With his third at bat of the game with the bases full, Guyer struck out swinging. Kipnis killed the rally attempt with a weak grounder to second, where Detroit turned the inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Down to their final three outs after a 1-2-3 inning from the reliever Ramirez in the bottom of the eighth, the Indians had yet another chance to deliver, but could not come through, this time against closer Shane Greene, doing the almost unheard of and working in a fourth straight game on the mound. After the first two batters were retired in order, Davis reached on a throwing error by Greene and settled in at second base. A wild pitch moved him 90 feet away from home, but Brantley could not yet blow out the candles on his birthday cake and get a wish, instead grounding out to short to end the ball game.
The Tigers (19-22) improved to 12-9 at home and have now won two straight against the Indians for the first time since winning three straight against them 4/16/17, 5/1/17, and 5/2/17. The Tribe went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners.
Tomlin made his first start since a rough outing against the Yankees on May 4. He allowed four runs on six hits, striking out four and failing to issue a walk. He threw 54 strikes and 24 balls in five and one-third innings, but added two more home runs to his MLB lead. He has now surrendered 15 homers in 31 innings on the year, leading to a 7.84 ERA and his 0-4 record.
The Indians have lost six of the seven games that he has appeared in this season, only winning his second start of the year, a 2-1 victory over Detroit in Cleveland, when Tomlin threw five scoreless innings of four-hit baseball.
LIRIANO LIT UP
Liriano is off to an eye-opening start, putting himself in prime position to relocate to a contender at the trade deadline as the Tigers would likely love to move him if out of the playoff race at that point for prospects. If one removes his numbers against the Indians this season, his overall results are even better.
In line for the loss when he left, his offense got him off of the hook. He worked four and one-third innings and was charged with five runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts in his worst start of the year. He has allowed seven runs on ten hits and six walks in 10 1/3 innings (6.10 ERA) against the Indians and 13 runs on 24 hits and 17 walks in 34 1/3 innings (3.41) in his six starts against anyone else. Command remains an issue for the left-hander – with three walks on the night, he upped his walks per nine inning rate up to 4.63 with 23 in 44 2/3 innings.
Lindor’s career-best 15-game hitting streak came to an end on Tuesday night as he went 0-for-1 at the plate with four walks in his first appearance of the season in the cleanup spot. He scored a run and struck out in his only official at bat. His on-base streak continues on, however, at 16 straight. He has reached base safely via hit or walk in 29 of his last 30 games.
After giving him plenty of time to look comfortable at the plate, the Indians finally placed center fielder Bradley Zimmer on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday in a move made retroactive to May 12.
Zimmer was hurt in a collision with the outfield wall at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, May 5, and would not play Sunday in the series finale or in the opener of the series in Milwaukee on May 8. He returned to the lineup and went 0-for-4 on Wednesday afternoon against the Brewers, but was held out of the entire series with the Royals and Monday’s opener in Detroit. His official diagnosis is that of a left rib contusion.
The Indians purchased the contract of the reliever Ramirez from Triple-A Columbus to assume his roster spot, with more moves likely in the coming days to give the Indians extra help on the bench. Outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin are both on the 10-day disabled list, and Edwin Encarnacion was held out of action Tuesday with a stiff neck, giving the team in essence a two-man bench for the game.
Left-hander Chad Bell, who was designated for assignment by the Tigers on May 13, was claimed off of waivers by the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.
AVOID THE SWEEP
The Indians will look to avoid their first sweep against the Tigers since April 10-12, 2015, on Wednesday afternoon in a 1:10 PM ET start.
The Tigers will turn to left-hander Ryan Carpenter, a 27-year-old who will need to be called up from Triple-A Toledo. He has made one start and one relief appearance for the Tigers this season, working three and two-thirds innings while allowing three runs on five hits (including two home runs). He is 1-3 with a 5.01 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP through seven starts for the Mud Hens this season.
Trevor Bauer (2-3, 3.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe, looking to play stopper to the team’s two-game skid. He is coming off of his worst start of the year, when he allowed five runs (four earned) on eleven hits in four and two-thirds innings in a no-decision against Kansas City. He defeated the Tigers in April, allowing two runs over seven innings for his first win of the year.
Question number two from Monday’s Tribe Trivia:
This Hall of Fame pitcher was born in Detroit and spent 15 years with the Tigers, debuting with the club at the age of 18. He made six All-Star teams and won back-to-back American League MVP awards in 1944 (when he led MLB with 29 wins) and again in 1945. His numbers slowed in the 1950s and he was released by the Tigers during the 1953 season. He joined the Indians in 1954, earning seven wins while working almost entirely in relief throughout the AL pennant winning season. He was released by the club the following May. He was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1992.
Who am I? – Hal Newhouser
Question number three from Monday’s Tribe Trivia:
This Detroit native spent his first eight big league seasons in Detroit and was named an All-Star in 1950 before he missed a year due to military service. He was traded to the Indians in 1953 and spent parts of five years with the club, becoming one of the main starting pitchers for Cleveland during their franchise-best 111-win season, joining rotation mates Early Wynn, Mike Garcia, Bob Lemon, and Bob Feller.
Who am I? – ANSWER ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON
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