Long Balls Power Tigers Past Bauer and Tribe; Tigers 4, Indians 1

Matthew Boyd allowed just one run over six innings of work, while the Detroit Tigers offense strung together ten hits and two home runs off of Trevor Bauer to back their starter in a 4-1 win on Wednesday afternoon.

A team finally figured out Bauer in the middle game of three from Comerica Park this week. The Indians’ 28-year-old right-hander, who had allowed just one hit total in his first two starts, dealt with base traffic all game long for the first time this season. He was outpitched by the Tigers’ lefty, who struck out a season-low six, but limited the Indians to just four hits on the day.

The Tigers jumped out in front with two runs in the bottom of the first after the Indians stranded Leonys Martin at second base after a leadoff bunt single and a wild pitch. Bauer struck out the first batter of his outing and retired Nicholas Castellanos on a fly to center, but Miguel Cabrera singled to right-center and scored on the next pitch as cleanup man Niko Goodrum cleared the wall in right with his first homer of the campaign. Bauer allowed a single to Christin Stewart before getting John Hicks to fly to right, but the Tigers had a 2-0 lead.

Boyd – Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

Boyd allowed a two-out single to Roberto Perez, a one-out double to Carlos Santana in the fourth, and a leadoff walk to Perez in the fifth, but none of the base runners advanced past second. Bauer’s experience was similar, as Dustin Peterson led off the second with a ground rule double, Goodrum singled with two down in the third, Hicks and Jordy Mercer each singled in the fourth, and Goodrum walked in the fifth to reach for a third straight plate appearance, but Bauer prevented runners from moving beyond second base to keep the game close at 2-0.

The Indians found the scoreboard in the sixth, cutting the Tigers lead in half. Martin was hit by a two-seamer, but Boyd struck out both Jose Ramirez and Jordan Luplow to leave the inning hanging in the balance. Santana drew a walk to move Martin into scoring position, and Hanley Ramirez delivered with a big double to center after falling behind in the count 0-2 to make it a one-run game. With the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, Jake Bauers struck out looking on a 2-2 fastball to waste a big scoring threat for the Tribe.

Detroit responded with two big runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the game away. Hicks caught a second straight changeup over the plate and belted it to left for his first homer of the year to make it a 3-1 game. Gordon Beckham doubled to left with one out, moved to third on a liner to right by Mercer, and trotted in easily on a two-out RBI-single by Josh Harrison to make it 4-1. Bauer was lifted for the newest Indian, Nick Wittgren, who struck out Castellanos swinging.

Cleveland missed out again in the seventh against reliever Victor Alcantara. Perez doubled on a slider, but he remained standing at second as Max Moroff fouled out. Pinch-hitter Brad Miller struck out swinging against left-hander Daniel Stumpf, and Martin grounded to second.

Wittgren’s impressive debut with the Indians continued as he blew through the Tigers lineup after a leadoff single by Cabrera. Goodrum, Stewart, and Hicks all struck out, but the right-hander needed 20 pitches to do so after a pair of five-pitch battles and a ten-pitch encounter with Hicks.

The Indians loaded the bases in the eighth, but wasted another golden opportunity. All-Star Joe Jimenez retired J. Ramirez on a pop to short for the first out and struck out Tyler Naquin for the second, but his next 20 pitches resulted in walks to Santana, H. Ramirez, and Bauers to load the bases. Manager Ron Gardenhire pulled his setup man for Buck Farmer, who got pinch-hitter Greg Allen to ground into a force at second.

Neil Ramirez worked around a pair of base runners in the bottom of the eighth to keep it a three-run game. Shane Greene entered looking for his eighth save in eight tries for the Tigers and did so quickly over an eleven-pitch outing. He got Moroff to ground to second, Miller to strike out, and Martin to ground to short. In securing the save, he became the first pitcher since the advent of the save statistic to record eight saves in his team’s first 12 games.

The Tigers moved to 8-4 on the year and are now 4-1 at home this year. The Indians slid a half game in back of Detroit at 7-4 and are 2-3 this season on the road.

Bauer – Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Boyd was good once again for the Tigers, as the 28-year-old left-hander kept the Tribe bats in check. He allowed a season-low four hits on the afternoon, walking two and striking out just six, the first time this season that he had not reached double-digit strikeouts in a game. With one run allowed over six innings, he dropped his season ERA to 2.60 and earned his first win in three tries.

Bauer had his first rough start of the campaign after posting a pair of dominating performances against Minnesota and Toronto. After allowing just one run and one hit combined in his first 14 innings of work, he exceeded those run and hit totals in the first inning when Goodrum left the yard. Bauer lasted five and two-thirds, allowing four runs on ten hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. The loss was his first of the year.

Perez had his best game of the season at the plate for the Tribe, going 2-for-2 with a single, a double, and a walk in three trips before being lifted with the bases loaded in the eighth. Santana reached three times in four trips with his third double of the year and a pair of walks. The Indians as a team went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position against the Tigers on Wednesday.

The two clubs will turn to a pair of second-year right-handers with the series on the line on Thursday afternoon. Cleveland will call on Shane Bieber (0-0, 3.38 ERA), who made a quality start while allowing just two runs on two hits with nine strikeouts in his first start of the season on April 5 against Toronto. Detroit will counter with Spencer Turnbull (0-1, 4.09 ERA), who will make his third start of the year. Turnbull made his Major League debut against the Indians last September, pitching a scoreless inning in relief, and is coming off of a career-high ten-strikeout performance against Kansas City in his last start, a quality no-decision.

First pitch of the series finale from Motown is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET on Thursday.

Photo: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

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