Indians 4, Tigers 0: Tribe salvage series finale on Mike Aviles grand slam, leave town 7 1/2 games out

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera sat out a second straight game, the Tigers' unable to overcome losing his big bat in a 4-0 shutout loss. Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings, but a wild Joaquin Benoit served up a Mike Aviles ninth inning grand slam, taking the loss.


Final - 9.1.2013 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cleveland Indians 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 4 5 0
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0
WP: Joe Smith (6 - 2)
LP: Joaquin Benoit (4 - 1)


The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians carried a scoreless tie into the ninth. In desperate need of a win to keep their slim wild card hopes alive, the Tribe rallied for four runs off Joaquin Benoit, all scoring on Mike Aviles' grand slam, salvaging the finale of the three game series. The season series between the two teams comes to an end with the Tigers holding a 15-4 advantage and a 7 1/2 lead in the Central.

Still dealing with nagging injuries, the Tigers kept a bang-up Miguel Cabrera out of the lineup for a the second straight game. Nick Castellanos, Detroit's top prospect, made his big league debut as a pinch hitter in the seventh, flying out in his first career at bat.

The two starters weren't around for the decision, but both had very good outings. The Indians' Danny Sanchez held the Tigers scoreless over six innings on six hits. Justin Verlander struggled through a difficult 35 pitch first inning, then settled in to allow just four hits over seven shutout innings.

Both teams went deep into their bullpens, the Indians using four relievers to the Tigers' three. Joe Smith (6-2), the fourth Tribe pitcher of the game, earned the win with a scoreless eighth. Benoit (4-1) suffered his first loss of the season, due to allowing only his fourth home run in 55 appearances.

"We haven't beat the Angels a game all season, it's just a freaky thing." -Jim Leyland trying to explain the Tigers' dominance over the Indians

The Indians had just five hits on the day, but walks proved to be the Tigers' undoing. They had six walks on the day, and all three runners who scored on the Aviles grand slam reached via a free pass.

The Tigers had no offense to speak of, although Andy Dirks and Omar Infante did have a pair of hits. But the Tigers' went begging for the big hit, wasting several scoring opportunities by stranding ten, five in of those in scoring position with two out.

There really was more good than bad to take from the game. Justin Verlander being the most important bright spot, pitching well to bounce back from an awful outing. Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque were dandy in their relief stints. Coming off a solid August (.821 OPS), Andy Dirks continued to swing the bat, with two hits to show for it. The Tigers were able to rest Miguel Cabrera in two of the three games, splitting them while winning the series.

Keep in mind a series win is most important thing of all. The Tigers send the Tribe on their way 7 1/2 games out, managing to go 6-4 in their last ten in spite of losing three in a row (in admittedly ugly fashion) to the A's.

Justin Velrander had a 44 pitch first inning his last start. It was more of the same inconsistent Verlander, at least early on.

After falling behind in the count 0-2, Tribe lead off man Micheal Bourn fouled off four in a ten pitch at bat, drawing a base on balls.  One batter into the game, it appeared it would be another off game for Verlander.

He needed nine pitches to retire Nick Swisher, reaching a 3-2 count for the second straight batter. Make it three straight, Jason Kipnis working a six pitch walk, Bourn stealing second during the at bat (the 19th straight steal the Tigers have allowed).

Two on and one out, Verlander was laboring. But the Indians let him off the hook. Carlos Santana lined out to right, Micheal Brantley striking out on the 35th pitch of the inning.

The Tribe fouled off 12 pitches, missing only three. At the very least, it was a nine pitch improvement over Verlander's last start.

Bottom half of the inning, Indians' starter Danny Salazar was a tad more efficient, needing a whole ten pitches to retire the side in order.

Top of two, Verlander allowed a one out single to Jason Kubel, bit otherwise had a vary more uneventful 16 pitch inning. Salazar allowed his first hit in the second as well. Of course it would be off the bat of Victor Martinez, a one out single extending his hitting streak to eight games. But fly balls from Don Kelly and Omar Infante would end another quiet inning.

Top of three, the bro's bro, Swisher, singled with one out. As Kipnis was swinging and missing on a full count mid-90's fastball, Swisher swiped second (20 in a row given up by the Tigers). Verlander would strand a runner in scoring position for the second time in three innings when Santana popped up, ending the threat.

The Tigers had their first scoring threat of the game in the bottom half of the third. It was time to break out the TTBDNS acronym.

"We got a bunch of hits, more than they did. We just couldn't do anything with them." "Couldn't get that golden hit." -Leyland on the Tigers being shut out

Alex Avila led off with a single to right. One down, Andy Dirks ripped a liner to right center, Bourn saving a run by cutting the ball off. If it had gotten by him, Avila scores. It didn't, and Avila was given the stop sign at third.

Avila was told to take off on contact, and did. But Iglesias's ground ball was directly to Mike Aviles at third, Avila was an easy out after being caught in a rundown. The scoring threat died a premature death when Torii Hunter flew out to shallow right.

Through a scoreless three innings, the pitching efficiency (or lack thereof) was ridiculous in contrast. Salazar had needed just 39 pitches to Verlander's sky high 69.

Then Verlander had his first truly easy inning of the day, taking a mere 15 pitches ("mere" is relative, it's Verlander after all) to set the Indians down in order in the fourth. At 84 pitches, Verlander likely had a couple of innings left in him.

Martinez tried to off Salazar in the fourth, rocketing a line drive off his thigh. Regardless of how hard the ball was hit, it resulted in the second out of a another 1-2-3 inning for the Salazar.

Verlander helped out himself in the fifth, picking off Drew Stubbs, who had reached on a one out single. The pick off allowed Verlander to end the inning facing just three Indians.

Bottom of five, Avila and Dirks combined for a second time to give the Tigers a scoring opportunity. Avila singled with one out, advancing to third on Dirks' two out single. But Iglesias left the ducks on the pond, meekly popping up to end another opportunity. As such, the game remained scoreless after five full frames.

With no one warming up in the Tigers' bullpen in the sixth, a Verlander with far more command had another easy inning, setting the side down in order. At 105 pitches and having regained his command, Jim Leyland wanted to squeeze more more inning out of his starter.

Bottom half of the sixth, Martinez hit into bad luck for the second consecutive at bat. One down and Prince Fielder on first, Martinez rocketed a ground ball which looked headed for right field. But Swisher dove and came up throwing to start a difficult to turn 3-6-1 double play, quickly ending the inning.

The Indians manufactured a scoring opportunity against Verlander in the seventh. Brantley led off by bouncing a single to center, then stole second (make it 21 straight stolen bases allowed by the Tigers). Terry Francona gave the Tigers a free out when he had Asdrubal Cabrera bunt the runner to third with no one out. He would soon want that out back.

An refreshingly old-school looking Verlander turned up the wick, blowing three high 90's fastballs past Kubel for the second out. Verlander deftly pitched out of the jam on his 115th and final pitch, Aviles bouncing out to short.

After a difficult to watch 35 pitch first inning, Verlander threw a more reasonable 80 pitches over the next six, ending what ended up as a very nice outing - seven innings, no runs, four hits, six strikeouts, two walks.

Salazar was put back in bubble wrap by the Indians after six innings, shutting out the Tigers on six hits. Lefty reliever Nick Hagadone was on the mound for the Indians in the bottom of the seventh.

The Nick Castellanos watch ended in the seventh. The Tigers' prize prospect entered the game as a pinch hitter for Don Kelly, There were no Hollywood theatrics, the rookie outfielder flying out to right on the second pitch he saw.

The Tigers put the next two on base, Infante singling, Avila drawing a walk, starting the bullpen parade. The .224 hitting Santiago due up (though he did hit a respectable .313/.358/.375 in August) Francona made the call for right-hander Cody Allen.

Allen would extinguish the threat, Santiago bouncing into a fielder's choice, Dirks striking out. On to the eighth, the game still a scoreless tie.

Top of eight, strategy ensued. Leyland went with Bruce Rondon on the mound, kept Castellanos in the game as the left fielder, Dirks sliding over to center.  Rondon walked Swisher with two down, but Castellanos recorded his first career putout when Kipnis sent a can of corn to left.

The Tribe called on the anonymously named right-handed side-armer, Joe Smith, to pitch the bottom of the eighth. Iglesias led off with a ground ball in thew hole, Cabrera unable to make the play, giving the rookie his league leading 32nd infield hit. One out and Fielder at the plate, the Tigers tried to run on Santana. He proceeded to throw out Iglesias in a bang-bang play.

Two down, Fielder drew a walk, giving Martinez a shot. Nothing doing, the Tigers' DH flew out to right to end the inning. Meh.

"He (Benoit) just struggled a little bit with his control. It was uncharacteristic." -Leyland on Benoit's ninth inning

Top of nine, closer Joaquin Benoit entered the game in a non-save situation. He immediately walked Santana, who was lifted for a pinch runner, September call up Jose Ramirez. In a long at bat, Brantley made it back-to-back walks for Benoit, who was battling with, and losing to, his command.

Cabrera moved the runners over with a second sacrifice bunt. Wanting to set up a double play, the Tigers countered by loading the bases, issuing Kubel an intentional pass. Aviles given a shot at driving in the lead run, he flipped a foul into short right. Infante wasn't able to come up with it. The good? If he had caught it, a run would have scored. Ramirez ready to tag and Infate would have been in no position to make a good throw. The bad? Infante came up limping, through he remained in the game.

Not that any of the above made any difference. It all became moot when Aviles lifted a 2-2 breaking ball to deep left, finding the bullpen for a grand slam as Castellanos,not knowing the lay of the land, banged hard into the fence. Aviles' ninth home run gave the Indians a 4-0 lead. In fact, it was the first lead of any kind on the afternoon.

Al Alburquerque would quell any further uprising, the damage was done. Benoit ended his day one one of his worst lines of the season - 1/3 inning, four runs, one hit and three walks.

It's a lesson learned over and over again - When you walk people, bad things happen. Bad things, man. Bad things.

But you can never say a game is over when Indians' closer Chris Perez is toeing the rubber. After Castellanos bounced out, Infante kept the inning going with a one out ground rule double to left center. But as if to prove it just wasn't their day, Avila hit the ball on a line ... plunking Infante, who was unable to get out of the way. Credit Avila with a single, Cabrera with a putout.

Of course, Santiago would follow with a single to right, extending the inning. Perez kept things interesting by wild pitching both runners into scoring position.  There would be no miracles today, Dirks grounding out to end the inning, game and series.

Game over.

Your final score is Indians 4, Tigers 0.

This about sums it up.

Can't win 'em all. I'm more than happy with the Tigers taking 2-of-3, the Indians leaving town further back than they arrived and the magic number lowered to 19.

The loss drops the Tigers' record to 80-57, .584. Their lead in the Central falls to the second highest it's been in 2013, 7 1/2 games over the Indians. The magic number holds steady at 19.

The Tigers kick off a nine game road trip with three in Boston. Game one is a Labor day matinee, Doug Fister (11-7, 3.81 ERA) facing BoSox right-hander John Lackey (8-11, 3.19 ERA). Lackey is the Red Sox's started designated as hard luck, often victimized by a lack of run support. In two of Lackey's five August starts, the Red Sox were shut out. Despite a respectable 3.21 ERA in his last six games, Lackey has just a 1-3 record to show for it.  Fister was rocked in his last appearance, giving up seven runs on 13 hits in just five innings in a loss to the A's. But in his five August starts before the A's debacle, Tigers were 4-1, Fister posting a 2-1 record with a 3.13 ERA. The first pitch on Labor Day at Fenway Park is set for 1:35 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Uber-prospect Nick Castellanos will wear number 30. Some in the Tigers' fan base are not happy with this development.

Ex-Tiger Quintin Berry, beloved by a segment of the fan base because he clapped a lot, was called up by the Red Sox. This encapsulates my thoughts exactly.

Bottom of four, Victor Martinez left an impression on Danny Salazar.

Salazar_medium

That's gonna leave a mark.

Things change, not always for the better.

Meanwhile, things were getting weird in the Tigers' radio booth.

Rod Allen, and for that matter, all sports analysts, use the same logic. One Cleveland starter is having a good game, so they must have a good rotation.

Our own HookSlide was part of the Comerica Park crowd. Jumbo-tron? More like Jumbo-Bro. Bro-tron?

It happens after EVERY loss.

THREE ROARS:

Andy Dirks: Two hits out of the lead off spot for Dirks.

Omar Infante: Two more hits have Infante hitting .320, a mark he hasn't reached since mid-May.

Justin Verlander: Struggled early, but you can't ask for much more than seven shutout innings.

BONUS ROARS:

Nick Castellanos: Made his first big league appearance, which should be one of many.

Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque: Threw strikes!

THREE HISSES:

Joaquin Benoit: Bad games happen, and Benoit was as wild as we've ever seen him.

Hitting with runners in scoring position: A game of wasted opportunities, the Tigers just couldn't come up with the big, game-changing hit.

Holding runners on base: Allowing 21 straight stolen bases is beyond ridiculous.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 1,111
Total commenters 41
Commenter list AriTwice, BadCompany22, Bent82, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, GWilson, Grzesio, JJMcEazy, JWurm, Jacob30, JerseyTigerFan, Joaquin on Sunshine, KGW, Keith-Allen, MSUDersh, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, NCDee, SanDiegoMick, Scherzerblueeye, Singledigit, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, Thorpac, Tigerdog1, TomduhB, Verlanderful, XFizzle, ahtrap, bobrob2004, dishnet34, dominator039, frisbeepilot, mrsunshine, rbbaker, rcpratt, stevedarsh, stevenyc, swish330, texastigerfan, zombi.
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/1/4682504/game-137-indians-at-tigers-1-08-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/1/4683516/game-137-overflow

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 frisbeepilot 100
2 SanDiegoMick 92
3 SpartanHT 91
4 Joaquin on Sunshine 77
5 JWurm 72
6 JerseyTigerFan 65
7 Verlanderful 54
8 ahtrap 37
9 mrsunshine 36
10 Singledigit 35

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
3 ahtrap pray for mojo
2 Singledigit Why not?
2 SanDiegoMick but I hope the comments count, cause I have a reputation to hold up and all.

GAME 136 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Omar Infante did his best Miguel Cabrera impression, clubbing two home runs and driving in five in a 10-5 win. Infante took PotG honors in a walk, taking 91% of the votes.

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