The Detroit Tigers matched their season-high losing streak of two games by falling to the Cleveland Indians 6-2. The victory guarantees the Tigers their first road series loss in five weeks. The Tigers last failed to at least split a series on the road when they dropped 2-of-3 to the San Diego Padres on April 11-13.
Called up from Triple-A Columbus this afternoon, Trevor Bauer (W, 1-1) (and his career big league ERA of 5.03) made the trip worthwhile. Bauer pitched into the seventh to earn the victory, scattering seven hits while allowing two runs and striking out five.
Tigers starter Justin Verlander (L, 5-3) had a rocky first and second innings, putting team in a hole which proved too deep. The veteran right-hander held the Tribe scoreless after surrendering five early runs, saving the bullpen somewhat by lasting six innings. But the early struggles were more than enough for Verlander to earn his third loss of the season. Verlander was charged with five runs, giving up a season-high 11 hits and walking three, striking out just two.
An all-lefty Indians lineup out-hit the Tigers 12-7, five runs in the first two innings carrying them to a win. Cleveland was led by the top of their order, Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera combining on a 4-for-8, two-runs-scored, two-RBI night. Mike Aviles had only one hit, but it was a game-breaking two-RBI double in the four-run second. David Murphy capped off the scoring with a solo home run in the seventh.
Alex Avila led Detroit's meager offense by reaching base three times on two hits and walk, including a long solo home run. Torii Hunter supplied the remainder of the scoring with a solo shot of his own. Ian Kinsler was the only other Tiger to reach base more than once, chipping in two singles.
Baseball sure s a funny game. Or as the case was tonight, frustrating as all get out.
The Tigers came into Cleveland on unicorns and rainbows, wearing Zubaz while riding high with a six-game winning streak and 11 consecutive road victories. On the flip, the Indians had been destroyed in a three-game sweep by the Oakland Athletics, losing four in a row and 6-of-8.
So baseball being baseball, the Tribe wake up and the Tigers go into a mini-funk, taking the first two games of the series.
No matter what happens tomorrow, the road trip will have been a successful one. Anytime you're above break-even on the road, you'll take it and run the Hell home.
But it sure would be nice if the Tigers could avoid a sweep with one win over the hated Tribe.
Top of the first and one out, all Tribe starting pitcher Trevor Bauer could do was watch as Torii Hunter launched a no-doubt solo home run, the ball sailing over the scoreboard in deep left center. Hunter's sixth big fly of the season gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead (MLB.com video).
Facing a batting order stacked with left-handed bats, Justin Verlander gave the run right back. Back-to-back-to-back one-out singles Asdrubal Cabrera, last night's hero Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall knotted the game at 1-all.
Runners on the corners and still only one down, Verlander avoided what could have been a much-worse inning by inducing David Murphy, to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play.
Bottom of two, Carlos Santana ripped a smash off the glove of Miguel Cabrera, which rolled 20 or so feet down the right field line. Cabrera jogged after the ball, Santana deciding to make the turn and take off for second. When Cabrera got to the ball, he turned around and fired a strike to Danny Worth, nailing Santana. Cabrera either lollygagged and got lucky, or baited Santana into running. It all depends upon your interpretation. Regardless, rule it a single and a Cabrera assist on the putout.
Either way, it was a good thing Cabrera made the play, as Verlander was scuffling badly. Nick Swisher followed Santana's TOOTBLAN with a double into the right field corner. He then went to a full count on Gomes before issuing a walk.
Mike Aviles made Verlander pay with a line drive into the left field gap, good for a double, two runs, and a 3-1 Indians lead, one they would never relinquish. Verlander had given up six hits, a walk and three runs in one trip through the Cleveland order.
Nothing changed the second time around for Verlander. Michael Bourn backed up Aviles' double with one of his own off the right field wall to make it 4-1 Indians.
Bourn proceeded to swipe third without a throw. The shelling of Verlander continued with a RBI single off the bat of the other Cabrera to make it a 5-1 game.
A brutal two innings came to an end on a fly ball and pop up, but the Tigers were down 5-1.
While Verlander was pitching like Rick Porcello circa anytime-against-the-Angels-2013, the Tigers' bats were doing little against Bauer. Ian Kinsler singled with one out in the third, but was eliminated when Hunter bounced into an inning-ending 4-6-3 twin killing.
After a 33-pitch second and the Tigers running with a short bullpen due to keeping Robbie Ray on the roster, Verlander was need of an easy inning. So, of course, he walked the lead-off man, Murphy.
One down, Swisher singled to put runners on the corners. It was the ninth hit of the night for the Indians. The most Verlander had given up in a game all season was eight.
As Detroit Pistons fans were losing their minds over losing their draft pick because the Cleveland Cavaliers had leap-frogged all the way to the top selection in the NBA draft, Verlander was finally gathering himself. He retired the last two batters of the inning, stranding a pair and keeping the Tigers within shouting distance at 5-1.
Top of four, the Tigers wasted a Cabrera lead-off double, Bauer retiring the next three batters in order.
Verlander was still struggling along in the bottom half of the inning, serving up a lead off-double to Bourn (which Austin Jackson played as if he were channeling Torii Hunter) and walking the other Cabrera. Verlander would again pitch out of trouble without allowing a run, but his pitch count was an ugly 90 through four.
As bad as it looked at times, the Tigers were not out of the game. That became even more true when Alex Avila hit an outright bomb to lead off the fifth, his third home run of the season pulling the Tigers within three. The monstrous fly ball cleared the 19-foot-high wall in center field over 410 feet away (MLB.com video).
The Tigers appeared to be on the verge of a rally when Worth singled after Avila's tape-measure job. Kinsler ripped a one-out line drive off the left field wall. But Brantley played the ball perfectly, throwing out Kinsler at second. The TOOTBLAN left Worth on third with two outs. Hunter bounced to short, ending what had been a promising inning.
Bottom of five, Verlander allowed a two-out double to Gomes as his pitch count soared over 100. Yet Verlander stranded a runner in scoring position for a third straight inning. Aviles popped up to send the game into the sixth with the score still 5-2 Tribe.
Verlander was far from sharp, allowing 11 hits and three walks in just five innings. At the very least he was eating up a few frames and not allowing any more runs. But a pitch count of 105 meant the game would be on the arms of a short-handed bullpen after six innings.
Bauer gave the Tigers hope in the sixth by issuing back-to-back one out walks to Victor Martinez and Jackson. Castellanos had a chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat. Instead, the rookie's slump continued. A weak swing sent a bouncer to first, Swisher starting a 3-6-1 double play.
Castellanos was originally called safe, but Terry Francona challenged. As had everything sports related today, the call went in Cleveland's direction. The play at first was so close it could have gone either way.
Verlander ended an odd night in the bottom of the sxith, wrapping up a 116-pitch start with his only 1-2-3 inning of the game.
Top of seven, Avila singed to lead off the inning. Francona immediately went to the bullpen, replacing Bauer with Bryan Shaw.
Avila on first with one out, Davis absolutely smoked a line drive ... right at Swisher, who stepped on the bag for an inning-ending double play. If you weren't sure before, you could no longer deny it was Cleveland's night.
Evan Reed got the ball in the seventh (finishing the game for Detroit, saving the rest of the bullpen), but couldn't keep the Tribe off the scoreboard. He served up a one-out solo shot to Murphy, the Indians extending their lead to 6-2.
It had been some time since we've seen such a "meh" performance from the Tigers, so I can understand how Melissa was feeling on the BYB Twitter.
I have decided I no longer want to watch this game.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 21, 2014
Well said. RT @NeilWeinberg44: I don't mind losing as much as I mind the Indians winning.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 21, 2014
The normally never-say-die Tigers did not have a comeback left in them, for one night anyway.
Between Shaw and Cody Allen, the Tribe bullpen did not allow a base runner over the final three innings, retiring the last nine Tigers in order.
Your final score is Indians 6, Tigers 2.
Post game, Brad Ausmus summed the night up with one sentence:
"Can't blame anyone for anything, we just got beat today."
Game three serves as both the series finale and an afternoon affair. In what appears to be a mismatch on paper, Max Scherzer take the ball for the Tigers, and right-hander Zach McAllister gets the nod for the Indians.
McAllister began the season a house afire, 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his first four starts. He's been a dumpster fire ever since, 0-4 and a sky-high 8.72 ERA in his last five appearances. McAllister is coming off the shortest start of his career, serving up eight runs in only 1 1/3 innings in a 11-1 loss to the Athletics.
Scherzer started his salary drive six starts ago, firing up talk of a second Cy Young (and discussion as to just how large a contract he'll get in free agency). He's won six consecutive starts, allowing just six earned runs in 39 innings, for a 1.38 ERA.
Wednesday's first pitch on Getaway Day is an earlier than normal 12:05 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Miguel Cabrera played in his 1700th career game last night. His stats remain almost identical to Hank Aaron.
First 1,700 career games Hank Aaron .321/.377/.567 818 XBH (375 HR) & 1,240 RBI Miguel Cabrera .321/.398/.567 812 XBH (372 HR) & 1,299 RBI— MLB Play Index (@BRefPlayIndex) May 20, 2014
While Justin Verlander was getting raked over during the second inning, ESPN Stats and Info tweeted a little good news.
Torii Hunter's HR was calculated at 445 feet. It is the longest homerun by a Tigers player this season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 20, 2014
How upset was our SB Nation sister blog, Detroit Bad Boys, with the city of Cleveland tonight? More upset than Tigers fans. Upset as in wanting the Mistake on the Lake wiped from the earth.
We just lost our pick NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) May 21, 2014
Can someone call the dugout and ask Justin Verlander to hit every Indians hitter until my rage subsides? @blessyouboys— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) May 21, 2014
Streaks and stats:
Over the final two innings of his last start and the first two innings tonight, Justin Verlander was rocked for 10 runs, 12 hits and two walks.
In his last two starts covering just 11 innings pitched, Verlander has had two frames with crooked numbers. He gave up five in the fifth against the Orioles last Wednesday, then four more in the second inning tonight.
Miguel Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a fourth-inning double.
The two-base hit was the 244th of Cabrera's Tigers career. That ties him with Harvey Kuenn for 11th in franchise history.
Alex Avila: Smashed a long home run and reached base three times tonight, Avila raising his OBP to a slick .365. But being he's only hitting .240, that makes him a bad offensive player, if your typical sports talk radio caller is to be believed.
Ian Kinsler: Yes, he had a TOOTBLAN. But Kinsler was the only Tiger other than Avila to have more than one hit.
Justin Verlander: An unpleasant-to-watch, extremely inefficient outing for Verlander, allowing five earned runs for a second straight start. Verlander still owns the highest ERA in the rotation at a respectable, but un-Verlander-like, 3.55.
Nick Castellanos: The league has adjusted to Castellanos, who is no longer hitting the ball hard and unable to draw walks. An 0-for-4 night drops the rookie's slash line to an ugly .236/.259/.378.
The city of Cleveland: The Mistake by the Lake took a shiv to the city of Detroit tonight. Obviously, the Indians won in dominant fashion, making the Tigers look mortal for the first time in weeks. But on the hoops side of the ledger, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA draft lottery, despite owning a 1.7% chance. Worse, the Cavs took the lottery for the third time in four years. Making it all the more excruciating was the Cavs moving up cost the Detroit Pistons their first round draft pick altogether. All in all, it was a rotten night in Detroit sports thanks to that city across Lake Erie.
If you want to catch up on the basketball drama, I highly recommend checking out Detroit Bad Boys.
A noon start after a night game: What the HELL, Cleveland?
TOP 11 COMMENTERS:
|3||Joaquin on Sunshine||39|
GAME 40 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Thanks to his ninth-inning pinch-hit home run which sent the game into extra-innings, J.D. Martinez took PotG with 70% of the vote.