Jose Alvarez took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and Don Kelly hit a three-run home run to lead the Tigers to a 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians. The victory gave the Tigers a weekend sweep over the struggling Indians, who are now 5 1/2 games behind in the AL Central.
Alvarez, making his big league debut in place of the injured Anibal Sanchez, allowed one run on three hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked one. He used a mix of low-90s fastballs, a looping curveball, and an effective changeup to keep the Indians off balance despite having the platoon advantage against the 24 year old lefty.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when they loaded the bases against Indians starter Justin Masterson on a single and two walks. Alex Avila drove the first pitch he saw to center field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Prince Fielder. Masterson would then retire Ramon Santiago and Omar Infante to end the threat.
Alvarez did not allow a hit until Ryan Raburn stepped to the plate with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Alvarez left an 0-1 cut fastball up in the strike zone and Raburn turned on it, depositing it several rows up in the left field bleachers to tie the game.
The game was deadlocked at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Miguel Cabrera and Fielder led off the inning with a walk and single, respectively. Victor Martinez popped to second for the first out of the inning, but Kelly drove a low 1-2 slider over the right field fence (VIDEO) to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. It was Kelly's third home run of the year and the sixth that Masterson has allowed to a left-handed hitter this season.
Drew Smyly came out of the bullpen in the seventh inning to protect the three run lead. After allowing two Indians to reach base, he got Mike Aviles to ground into an inning-ending double play. Smyly retired the side in the eighth inning, only allowing a bunt single by Michael Bourn. Joaquin Benoit allowed a one-out double in the ninth inning, but retired Jason Giambi and Raburn for his third save of the season.
Jim Leyland drew the ire of Tigers fans (this one included) before the game for penciling Don Kelly into the sixth spot in the Tigers lineup. Kelly rewarded Leyland's faith with a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead. The home run made Alvarez the pitcher of record. Alvarez is the first Tigers pitcher to win his major league debut since Alfredo Figaro in 2009.
The Tigers announced after the game that Alvarez would be sent back down to Triple-A. Right-handed relief pitcher Evan Reed has been called up for his second tour of duty with the Tigers this season. The Tigers will travel to Kansas City for a three game series starting tomorrow night. The Royals were 27-32 heading into today's action and are currently tied at 0 with the Houston Astros in the seventh inning. Doug Fister will pitch against Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie tomorrow night.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Alvarez did an excellent job of mixing his pitches and attacking both sides of the strike zone. The Indians have feasted on left-handed pitching this season, but seemed baffled all day long by Alvarez. Six of Alvarez's seven strikeouts were of the swinging variety.
Even though he gave up four runs, Masterson was pretty effective against the Tigers' lineup. He made Miguel Cabrera look silly on a late-breaking slider to strike out the MVP in the third inning and only allowed six hits in seven innings. His command was an issue once again, however, walking three batters -- two of which occurred in innings that the Tigers scored.
Alex Avila was 0-for-3 on the day, but he had three nice swings. He drove the ball to deep center field in his first two plate appearances, one of which resulted in a sacrifice fly to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. His fourth plate appearance was a hard line drive directly at second baseman Jason Kipnis. He's not turning any corners yet, but today was a nice start.
He may have made the right call with putting Don Kelly in the lineup today, but some of Jim Leyland's moves still make no sense.
Wow. They did a hit & run with Kelly batting and VMart running and I blacked out for a moment.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) June 9, 2013
Nick Swisher singled off Alvarez in the sixth inning, his first hit in over a week.
Nick Swisher's Bro-for-26 streak is Bro-ver.— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) June 9, 2013
Drew Smyly, still criminally under-used.
Leverage Index was 0.92 when Smyly came into the game. 1 is average. It's the highest the LI has been when he came into a game since 5/17.— bigmike (@bigmike05) June 9, 2013
I said before the Tigers' previous series with the Indians that we would know a lot more about their team over the next few weeks. The Indians had a rough stretch ahead of them at the time, and it's safe to say that things haven't gone well. The Tribe are 4-15 since May 20th, including 0-5 against the Tigers. Their pitching staff has been as advertised, allowing 5.7 runs per game during that stretch.
Drew Smyly got into a little trouble in the sixth inning, but got out of the mini-jam when Miguel Cabrera turned a sharp grounder from Mike Aviles into a nifty 5-3 double play. Miggy made a couple of solid plays with the glove today.
The Tigers' decision to call up Reed makes a lot of sense, especially given that Anibal Sanchez is not currently on the disabled list. If the Tigers feel that Sanchez isn't ready to make his next start, they can place him on the disabled list retroactive to his last outing against the Tampa Bay Rays. This would allow them to call up Alvarez to start without having to wait the obligatory 10-day grace period after a player is optioned to the minor leagues.
Jose Alvarez: Took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and allowed just one run and three hits in six innings. He struck out seven, walked one, and kept the Indians lineup off-balance all afternoon. All in all, a spectacular debut for the young lefty.
Don Kelly: Just as we were resigned to Alvarez being stuck with a no-decision, Kelly took Justin Masterson deep to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. He also drew two walks.
Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit: A combined three scoreless innings in relief gave Alvarez a well-deserved win in his big league debut.
Jim Leyland: Sometimes you have to tip your cap. Leyland put together everyone's worst nightmare of a lineup with Don Kelly hitting sixth, but it paid off when Kelly homered to give the Tigers a three-run lead.
Ryan Raburn: Recapping a no-hitter, especially for a pitcher making his major league debut, would have been really cool.
Anyone that booed Ryan Raburn: Let it go, Tigers fans.
Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago: Both went 0-for-3 on the afternoon and left two runners stranded on base in the bottom of the second inning.
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
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GAME 60 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Rick Porcello continues to rick roll the opposition, picking up 60% of the vote as yesterday's BYB Player of the Game.