Tribe Gives Away Win as Tigers Tag Bullpen in Eighth; Tigers 5, Indians 2
Bob Toth | On 19, Sep 2020
Trying to protect a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Indians bullpen was tagged by the Tigers bats for four runs as Cleveland lost a 5-2 game in Detroit on Saturday night.
After coming back from an early one-run deficit, the Indians had held the lead since a two-run third pushed the club in front, 2-1. After three scoreless innings of relief from Cal Quantrill and Nick Wittgren, the Tribe turned to Phil Maton for the eighth, but he immediately ran into trouble. He walked the leadoff man Harold Castro, who was lifted for pinch-runner Derek Hill. Maton struck out Jorge Bonifacio for the first out, but his next pitch to Niko Goodrum was blooped into left for a base hit. Eric Haase, the former Indians catcher, singled to center to push in the tying run, knotting the game at two. Daz Cameron, the struggling rookie, got a hit for the second straight at bat, singling to right to score Goodrum from third to give the Tigers their first lead since the third. Miguel Cabrera pinch-hit for Isaac Paredes and drew a walk to load the bases. Cam Hill took over for Maton and promptly walked Victor Reyes to force in Haase, making it a 4-2 Tigers lead. Willi Castro lofted a fly ball to shallow right field. Tyler Naquin made the catch near the foul line and tried to throw to the plate on the run. Carlos Santana cut the ball on what may have been a close play at the plate, allowing Cameron to score to make it a 5-2 game. Jeimer Candelario flied to center to strand a pair.
Bryan Garcia dominated the Tribe bats in the top of the ninth in the save situation. He struck out Santana on three pitches before giving up a single to center to Franmil Reyes. Naquin struck out swinging on three pitches and Roberto Perez was set down looking on a third straight strike from Garcia to send the Tribe back to the hotel with another loss on his third save of the season.
It was a tough outing for Triston McKenzie, who battled command and did not have the usual zip on his fastball. After a 1-2-3 first inning from Detroit starter Spencer Turnbull, the Tigers got help from the Indians’ rookie right-hander. V. Reyes singled to left-center, but he was thrown out on the back end of a strike-em out, throw-em out double play. Candelario walked on four pitches and H. Castro put the Tigers on the board with a double deep to right-center, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Bonifacio walked on four straight before McKenzie got Goodrum to ground out to second.
Turnbull retired the Tribe in order a second time in the second before the Tigers threatened again. With two outs, Paredes walked in an eight-pitch at bat. V. Reyes singled to second to put two on for W. Castro, who lined to Naquin in right to leave two on base.
The Indians sent seven to the plate in the top of the third, taking the lead but failing to fully cash in on a big opportunity. Perez singled to center and Josh Naylor singled to left to put two on. Oscar Mercado struck out looking and Francisco Lindor struck out swinging to put the inning in the balance. Cesar Hernandez reached on an infield single to load the bases for Jose Ramirez, who continued his hot hitting in Detroit with a two-run double to right, putting the Indians on top, 2-1. With two runners standing in scoring position, Santana grounded out sharply to second.
McKenzie worked around a one-out single by H. Castro in the third and Turnbull struck out a pair in a perfect fourth. The Tigers wore McKenzie out with another long inning in the bottom of the frame, but the young hurler was able to keep the home town club off of the scoreboard. Haase singled to right before Cameron popped out to first. Paredes singled to left-center to put two on for V. Reyes, who grounded into a fielder’s choice force at second for the second out. He stole second to put both runners in scoring position, but McKenzie got his old teammate W. Castro looking to leave two more men on base.
Turnbull made it ten straight retired after the Ramirez double with 1-2-3 innings in the fourth, fifth, and sixth. Quantrill allowed runners in both of his innings of work in the fifth and sixth for the Tribe, but he kept the Tigers off of the scoreboard.
Turnbull came out for the seventh inning for the Tigers, but departed after giving up a leadoff double to F. Reyes. Left-hander Derek Norris came on in relief with two left-handers coming up in the Indians lineup and got Naquin to ground to second for the first out, although he successfully moved the runner to third. Perez struck out swinging for the second out and pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow, batting for the left-handed Naylor, was cut down on a 94 MPH fastball down the middle to leave a key runner stranded at third.
Wittgren pitched a perfect inning after the stretch before the Indians threatened and squandered another scoring chance. Norris retired Mercado on a grounder to second before Lindor doubled to left. Hernandez reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners, bringing interim manager Lloyd McClendon out of the Detroit dugout for Jose Cisnero. He fell behind his first batter 2-0 before Ramirez ripped the fourth pitch of the at bat to the first baseman Candelario, who snagged the ball and doubled up Hernandez at first in an unfortunate turn of events for Cleveland, just ahead of the Detroit rally in the bottom of the inning that proved to be the difference.
The Indians dropped to 28-24 on the season and 16-13 on the road, falling five and a half games in back of Chicago and two and a half behind Minnesota in the American League Central with both rivals’ games still in action at the time of this story. It marked the 24th time this season that the Indians had scored two runs or less in a game, the most in the Majors this season.
Detroit is now 22-29 on the year, ending a 12-game home losing streak to Cleveland.
“We had opportunities and tough breaks, too,” said interim Indians manager Sandy Alomar Jr. “We had a line drive to first base, couldn’t get that runner in. Our pitching had to navigate through a lot of traffic. They left ten guys on base, so we were very fortunate to be in that game to begin with.”
McKenzie departed after four innings after throwing 79 pitches. He was charged with a run on six hits, walking three and striking out three. He had just three swinging strikes on the night.
“There was a conversation that I talked to the coaches about, kind of in between I talked with Ruben [Niebla] about it. If I’m only going to get 85 pitches, making those 85 pitches the best 85 pitches I can and going out there and competing from pitch one to pitch whatever it is,” said McKenzie. “I think I tried to do a good job of that tonight.”
Maton took the loss, his third of the year, and was charged with a blown save after allowing four runs on three hits with two walks and just one strikeout in one-third of an inning of work. Several of those runs came in after Hill inherited a mess on the base paths.
Turnbull took the no-decision to keep him winless against the Indians in his career. He worked six-plus innings on the night, giving up two runs on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven. Cisnero got the win in relief with a perfect two-thirds of an inning worked. Garcia struck out three and threw all eleven pitches of the ninth for strikes to earn his third save.
The Indians went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded five. The Tigers were 2-for-7 in similar circumstances and left ten.
F. Reyes and Hernandez each had a pair of hits for the Tribe on the night. Ramirez drove in both Indians runs to give him 34 RBI on the season. The Cleveland lineup struck out 12 times on the night and did not draw a walk.
V. Reyes, H. Castro, Haase, and Cameron each had two-hit games for the Tigers. Only one of the Tigers’ ten hits on the night fell in for extra bases. The Tigers drew seven walks.
Prior to the game, news broke out of Detroit that manager Ron Gardenhire had captained his last game in the Majors. Due to a recent battle with food poisoning and a desire to focus on his health, the Detroit skipper announced his retirement effective immediately. The bench coach McClendon will handle the managerial duties for the rest of the season.
“I was surprised. I had heard that he was supposed to retire after the season,” shared Alomar Jr. “Unfortunately he retired now, before. I was very surprised to see him to leave before the season was over.”
The Indians will look to claim the series in a 1:10 PM ET game on Sunday from Comerica Park. The Tigers will send out left-hander Matthew Boyd (2-6, 6.75 ERA), while the Indians will call on right-hander Carlos Carrasco (2-4, 3.27 ERA).
Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images