The Cleveland Indians entered their four-game series with the Detroit Tigers three games out of first place. Four days later, their first place dreams had been extinguished, Tigers leaving town with a seven-game lead after a 10-3 romp over the Indians. The Tigers extended their winning streak to 12 games, and swept their first four-game series in Cleveland since June 1988.
The beneficiary of the the Tigers' max run support was Max Scherzer, who won his MLB-leading 17th game of the season. Scherzer joins Roger Clemens (2001) and Don Newcombe (1955) as the only starting pitchers to start a season 17-1. Given a huge lead, Scherzer cruised through seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out five. It was Scherzer 23rd straight game with five-plus strikeouts.
Starter and loser for the Tribe was Zach McAllister (4-7), who couldn't get out of the third inning. McAllister had trouble finding the strike zone, allowing four hits and walking four more while allowing six runs, five earned, in just 2 1/3 innings. Taking over for McAllister, rookie reliever Preston Guilmet was tagged for the final four Tigers' runs in 2 2/3 innings of work.
The middle of the Tigers' order did the majority of the offensive damage, driving in eight of the nine earned runs. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez combining on a 5-for-13, three-walk, three-run, eight-RBI night. Andy Dirks had the other RBI as part of a two-hit night. Austin Jackson chipped in a pair of hits and scored twice. Almost all the Indians' offense was supplied by Asdrubal Cabrera with two hits and two RBIs.
The first three games of the series had plenty of fireworks and a serious amounts of drama. But after a brutal 14-inning loss on Wednesday, the Indians took the field with the look of a beaten team. They definitely played like it, the game essentially over over after three innings.
As for the Tigers? They did what Tigers do. They EAT.
First inning, both Zach McAllister and Max Scherzer retired the side in order. But the first batter McAllister faced in the second, Prince Fielder, ripped a double off the left field fence. Michael Brantley played the bounce well, a hustling Fielder was forced to
slide crash head first into second with a death grip on the bag.
Victor Martinez moved Fielder to third with a ground ball to the right side. That's where he would remain. If he had been running on contact, Fielder would have scored on Don Kelly's slow roller to short ... but he wasn't, instead holding at third. A possible rally died an untimely death when Alex Avila was caught looking on three consecutive borderline pitches. Bud Selig's beloved human element was at work.
Top of three, McAllister was struggling mightily with his command and mechanics. Ramon Santiago led off with a walk. Hernan Perez at the plate, the Tigers pulled off a textbook hit and run. Perez slapped a line drive to right for a single, Santiago easily advancing to third. Fastball consistently high in the zone, McAlllister walked Jackson to load the bases with no one out.
McAllister got the first out of the inning with help from Andy Dirks, who struck out swinging on three pitches, the last two well out of the strike zone. A far more patient Miguel Cabrera held off on the high fastballs, walking on five pitches, driving in the first run of the game. Cabrera's ninth career bases-loaded walk, and third this season, raised his RBI total to 103.
A patient Fielder also held off on the high heat, working himself into a hitter's count of 3-1. McAllister forced to groove a pitch in the middle of the zone, Fielder lashed a line drive into the left center field gap. Both Santiago and Perez crossed the plate, pushing the Tigers' lead to 3-0 (MLB.com video). It was Fielder's third straight two base hit, giving him four RBIs in his last three at bats.
Runners in scoring position, Martinez cleared the bases by yanking a 1-0 inside breaking ball off the right field fence for a two RBI double (MLB.com video). The Tigers were up 5-0 and had McAllister on the ropes.Their bullpen in disarray after last night's marathon, the last thing the Tribe needed was a short outing from McAllister. But that's exactly what was going down. Rookie right-handed reliever Preston Guilmet, who had been called up from Triple-A expressly for this game, was furiously warming up.
Once McAllister walked the next batter, Donnie Baseball, Terry Francona threw in the towel. McAllister was given the hook, replaced by Guilmet, who was making only his second career MLB appearance.
With two down, Guilmet looked to be out of the inning when Santiago hit a bouncer to second. But the Tribe decided to cue up Yakkity Sax. Mike Aviles just plain booted the grounder, the ball rolling to Drew Stubbs in short right. Stubbs airmailed his throw all the way to the backstop, allowing Martinez to slide home with the sixth run of the inning. The official scorer gave Aviles an E-4 and the run scoring on Stubb's E-9.
When the dust settled and the inning was over, the Tigers held a 6-0 lead.
Like an elite starter should, Scherzer pitched shut down bottom of the third, including strike outs of Aviles and Stubbs. Not a good inning for those two...
Jackson led off the fourth with the Tigers' fourth extra base hit, tripling into the gap in left center. This time around, Dirks was able to get the run home with no one out with extra base hit number five, ripping a double to right.The game had quickly turned into a blowout at 7-0.
After Fielder was finally retired on a line drive to right, Dirks and Cabrera were on the corners with one out. Martinez made a bad night worse for the Indians by singling through the right side off the glove of a sprawling Aviles. Dirks scored, the Tigers now running away from the Tribe with an 8-0 lead.
Scherzer lost his no-hit bid in the bottom half of the fourth, the gave up his first run. Bourn hit a hard one-hopper off the leg of Scherzer, who might have had him if he didn't rush his throw. Scherzer did, firing a bullet into right field. Bourn was credited with a single. Bourn would score all the way from first when Asdrubal Cabrera doubled over the head of Kelly in right. Scherzer would get out of the inning without further damage with the Tigers holding a 8-1 lead.
The Tigers kept pouring it on in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 10-1. Santiago and Perez led off the inning with back-to-back singles. With two out, Cabrera almost casually ripped a double into the left field corner, Santiago and Perez scoring the plate. Guilmet got our of the inning when Fielder flew out, but he had now allowed four runs in just 2 2/3 innings of work. With a trashed bullpen and a sweep all but inevitable, the rookie was a sacrificial lamb for the Tribe at this point.
Bottom of six, drum guy got some work in, the Indians scratching across a run with two outs. Kipnis singled and would score on Cabrera's double. The Tribe had pulled within eight runs at 10-2.
Scherzer's night was over after 100 pitches and seven innings. He struck out the final batter he faced, Aviles, keeping alive his streak of starts with five plus strikeouts at 23 straight games.
The sweep a done deal, both teams were going through the motions in the late innings. Al Alburquerque pitched an uneventful eighth for the Tigers, looking far better than he did in his short outing last night.
At this point, the Tigers holding an eight run lead in the top of the night, the Tribe waved the white flag. Our of arms after using Matt Albers and Alphabet Guy (Marc Rzepczynski), Terry Francona used ex-Tiger Ryan Raburn in ninth inning relief. Raburn looked better than the rest of the Tribe staff, tossing a quick 13-pitch 1-2-3 inning. Pena bounced out 3-1, pinch hitter Matt Tuiasosopo struck out and Perez bounced out 4-3.
Giggles were had by all and Raburn left the field with the ball as a keepsake. It was the only reason the Indians had to smile after what had been a miserable four days.
Phil Coke got the garbage time assignment. pitching the bottom of the ninth. It wasn't one his prettier outings, giving up two hits and a throwing error. The ever-annoying Kipnis doubled, advancing to third on a fly ball. Brantley was given a gift single when Coke threw his swinging bunt into right field, Kipnis scoring on the error. Coke finally ended a game which had been over since the third inning on a fly ball to right.
GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 10, Indians 3. For the series, it's Tigers 4, Indians 0. As for streaks, it's Tigers 12 straight wins, Indians 4 straight losses.
The Tigers' victory numbers are becoming overwhelming, just as the Indians were overwhelmed over the past four games.
The Tigers' winning streak has reached near-historic proportions. With tonight's win, the 2013 team equaled the 12-game streak of the 2011 team, making the Tigers the first franchise to have a pair of streaks of that length in a three-year period since the Giants of the mid-60s.
This Tigers team is just two victories short of the franchise record of 14, set in 1909 and tied in 1934. The Tigers have also won 16-of-17. No team in franchise history has ever gone 17-of-18, not even the 1984 champions.
As for the standings? The Tigers are 68-45 overall, raising their road record 31-26. Their lead in the Central stands at seven games, the Indians and Royals now fighting for wild card scraps. The Tigers also took the AL lead in winning percentage, .602 to the Red Sox's .598.
Winning streaks are wondrous things.
The Tigers and their 12-game win streak head to the Big Apple for a weekend series with the Evil Empire. Game one features Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.28 ERA) taking on Yankees' right-hander Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.08 ERA). Porcello is 4-0 with a 1.87 ERA over his previous five starts, holding the White Sox to one run over 7 2/3 innings in his last appearance. Nove has pitched well as of late, 1-2 and 1.71 ERA in his last three starts. But Nova has never pitched well against the Tigers, 0-2 with an 8.83 ERA in four career appearances, three of those starts. Friday night's first pitch at Yankee Stadium is scheduled for 7:05 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Austin Jackson had a bad-good first inning. Leading off the game, Jackson stuck out on three pitches.
Well that didnt take long at all— NERTS ATTACK BABY (@catswithbats) August 8, 2013
Austin should bring back the leg kick and then get rid of it again so he can start hitting.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) August 8, 2013
Jackson then redeemed himself, covering a ridiculous amount of ground in center field to rob Nick Swisher of extra bases in the bottom of the first.
Jackson soooo good— NERTS ATTACK BABY (@catswithbats) August 8, 2013
Nothing drops in centerfield when Austin Jackson is out there.— #BecauseBaseball (@TigersSouthpaw) August 8, 2013
Our friend Rogo lives south of the Michigan border in Toledo. His Tribe fan friends had gone incommunicado in the six run third.
Ever start "Major League" at the end and watch the movie backwards? That's kind of like every Indians season.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) August 9, 2013
Miguel Cabrera tripped over third base in the fourth, landing in a heap. Thankfully, he was more embarrassed than hurt.
Cabrera stumbles over 3rd base on Don Kelly groundout, tips his batting helmet, gets an ovation.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) August 9, 2013
A tip of the cap from Miguel Cabrera after he tripped over third-base bag. Fielder and Hunter make sure that Cabrera knows they saw it, too.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) August 9, 2013
Kurt must need some sleep, it's the only way I can explain this tweet:
#confessyourunpopularopinion I like the drumming in the background— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 9, 2013
@BigAlBYB it reminds me of a soccer match. kind of relaxing— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 9, 2013
There can't be a catcher in the big leagues who takes more punishment than Alex Avila. In the fourth inning, Avila took a foul tip to the head which drew blood from his ear, ultimately forcing him from the game.
Brayan Pena took over in the bottom of the fifth, despite catching all 14 innings Wednesday night.
In better injury news, Omar Infante went 1-for-3 while playing the first six inning for the Toledo Mud Hens tonight.
The Indians drew their biggest crowd of the four game series, drawing 25,131. I'm absolutely amazed by the lousy attendance for the four-game series. The classy crowd started the "Detroit's Bankrupt" chant again in the ninth inning.
Apparently, Ryan Raburn has "stuff."
According to pitchFX, Raburn has a 4-seam fastball, a changeup, a cutter and a slider. I suspect none of that was intentional.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) August 9, 2013
Post game, there was some bad news. Injuries continue to pile up. Avila was showing signs of a concussion and was sent to hospital for precautionary measures.
Alex Avila went to the hospital for an MRI to check for a concussion. Felt light-headed and nauseous.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) August 9, 2013
Ramon Santiago was also removed from the game with what Jim Leyland called a "leg pull."
Prince Fielder: Slump over? Played a big part in the Tigers taking an early lead with a pair of doubles, driving in two.
Victor Martinez: His early season slump a distant memory, Martinez had two hits and three RBIs.
Max Scherzer: Brilliant once again, allowing just four hits and two run in seven innings.
Miguel Cabrera: Drove in three runs with a double and base on balls.
Austin Jackson: Two hits, two runs scored, some excellent defense. That's the Jackson we've been missing.
Ryan Raburn: A position player was the best pitcher of the night for the Indians. As Leyland put it:
"They're making him earn that two year extension!"
Injuries: Cabrera is gimpy and Infante is still on the DL. Now Avila is banged up with a possible concussion and Santiago may have a leg issue. The rash of injuries make the Tigers' surge all the more impressive.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
The PotG could have been one of several candidates, but the most deserving had be Jeremy Bonderman. His last appearance as a Tiger was in the final game of the 2010 season. In his return, Bonderman picked up his first career win in relief with three shut-down innings.