If you looked at the pitching match-up before this game and thought, "Well, Justin Verlander should pitch better than Carlos Carrasco, so the Tigers ought to beat the Indians," you'd have been exactly right. Verlander gave up two runs in seven innings, with 11 strikeouts. Carrasco allowed four runs in five innings, with three walks.
Of course, there's usually more to the story.
As is often the case in one of Verlander's starts, he had one of those innings. Thursday night, it was the third inning, as Verlander put the first four Cleveland batters on base, resulting in two runs. Making matters worse was Verlander trying to throw his way out of trouble, figuring no one could touch his 98 m.p.h. and above heat. He was right about that. Except the Indians just let the hard stuff go by, and waited for the soft stuff.
Once Verlander resumed pitching instead of throwing, however, he began getting hitters out and escaped with only hose two runs allowed.
Carrasco wasn't so lucky in his half of the inning. He wasn't fooling anyone in the Tigers lineup, giving up four singles to the first five batters he faced. (And he walked the other one.) By the time Carrasco could finally get someone out, Detroit had scored four runs and essentially taken control of the game.
The Tigers added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but it turned out they needed that cushion. Bobby Seay came in fo face the big lefties in Cleveland's lineup, but couldn't get either Shin-Soo Choo or Travis Hafner out. Worse, it appeared that Seay just wasn't feeling right. (And he'll have his shoulder looked at today.) Fortunately for Detroit, Brandon Lyon was able to clean up the mess and finish the inning.
Fernando Rodney, however, had a bit of trouble closing out the game. It didn't look that way initially, as he retired his first two batters. But Rodney then had difficulty locating his fastball, and walked Jamey Carroll. He got ahead of Choo 0-2 with change-ups, but once again couldn't find the control on his fastball. So Choo sat on the change-up and when he got another one, he blasted it for a two-run homer. Uh-oh.
Rodney forgot about the change-up against Travis Hafner, and finally found the strike zone with his fastball. But Hafner singled on a pitch right down the middle, giving Cleveland a chance to tie the game. Jhonny Peralta bailed Rodney out swinging at a high-and-inside fastball. Yet that might have been a base hit, if not for a lunging stop by Brandon Inge to end the game.
Much closer than it should've been. And the final result wasn't all that pretty. But the bullpen could afford a bad night, thanks to those extra runs. With the win (their fourth straight), the Tigers sweep the Indians yet again and gain a half-game over the Twins in the AL Central.
How does a 14-4 record against Cleveland this year look to you?
Carlos Guillen racked up three hits for the second consecutive night, batting 3-for-3 with a RBI.
Curtis Granderson drove in a run with a groundout, but finished his night 0-for-5. And in this three-game series, he batted 2-for-16. That's dropped his OPS to .769, the lowest it's been since mid-April.
Comment of the Night:
I hate Nick Punto.
Just thought I’d put it out there.