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Indians 9, Tigers 3: Cleveland scores nine unanswered runs in Detroit bullpen implosion

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Detroit's bullpen served up seven extra base hits, including three home runs, over the final three innings, turning a close game into a blowout.

Duane Burleson

The Detroit Tigers cruised into the seventh inning holding a 3-0 advantage over the Cleveland Indians. Three outs, seven hits, seven runs, two home runs and four Tigers pitchers later, the Indians were up 7-3 and well  on their way to a 9-3 victory.

Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez (L, 6-4) was lights out for six innings. But he couldn't retire a batter in the seventh, the first four Indians he faced reached base before getting the hook from Brad Ausmus. Sanchez was ultimately charged with four runs thanks to the bullpen's struggles, taking the loss. Over his six plus innings, Sanchez allowed six hits, striking out seven and walking one.

The culprit in the Detroit's loss was their bullpen, which imploded in gruesome fashion. Ian Krol pitched to one batter in the game-deciding seventh, giving up a two RBI double to Ryan Raburn. Al Alburquerque took over, serving up home run balls to Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera, turning a tight game into a Tigers loss. Chad Smith got the ninth inning garbage time assignment, keeping the bullpen dumpster fire smoldering by giving up two runs on three hits.

The beneficiary of the Tigers' bullpen shenanigans was Indians' starter and winner Trevor Bauer (W, 4-4), who was the pitcher of record after six innings, pulled when down 3-0.  Bauer allowed three runs on six hits, walking one and striking out five. Given a large cushion, the Indians' bullpen allowed base runners in in each of the last three innings, but three relievers would keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.

The Indians' outhit the Tigers 14-11. Seven of those hits went for extra bases, including three home runs. Two were off the bat of Kipnis, who homered in the seventh and ninth innings, driving in four runs. Michael Brantley had a big night with four hits, Nick Swisher adding two hits and three RBI. Raburn joined the hit parade with a pair of doubles and an RBI.

The Tigers couldn't counter the Indians late inning offense, held off the scoreboard over the final five innings. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Alex Avila each had two hits. Torii Hunter chipped with an RBI double, a run scored and a stolen base.

Despite the lackluster effort from the bullpen, the Tigers didn't take a hit in the standings. Their lead stood steady at 6 1/2 games thanks to a Kansas City Royals loss to the Boston Red Sox. The loss drops the Royals into a second place tie with the Indians.

ROARS:

Anibal Sanchez: Sanchez was great for six innings, shutting out the Indians on three hits. But he couldn't get out of the seventh, allowing the first four batters to reach base before getting pulled. The bullpen would then blow up in spectacular fashion, hanging the loss on Sanchez.

Torii Hunter: Hunter both celebrated his 39th birthday and thumbed his nose at Father Time in the fourth. He drove in the Tigers' second run with a double, then proceeded to steal third and score when Yan Gomes' throw skipped into left field.

Victor Martinez: After missing most of the past two weeks with a side injury, Martinez picked up where he left off with two hits in four at-bats.

Alex Avila: Hit the ball hard, especially late in the game, ending the night with a pair of hits. Avila smoked a pair of long drives in the seventh and ninth innings, over 800 feet combined ... but to the wrong parts of Comerica Park. All he had to show for the two bombs was a loud out and a double.

Austin Jackson's defense: In the fifth inning there was a glimpse of the old-school Jackson who would run down every fly ball hit his way, even those looking out of his reach off the bat. David Murphy drilled a liner to deep left center, but Jackson's great jump and route allowed him to make a marvelous over-the-shoulder running catch just a step in front of the warning track. The grab was extremely similar to the catch he made in the ninth inning of Armando Galarraga's 28 out perfect game.

HISSES:

Ian Krol: Allowing a seventh inning, two run, pinch-hit double was bad enough. But giving it up to the under-the-Mendoza-Line living Ryan Raburn? That's like stabbing a Tigers fan, twisting the knife, then snapping off the handle.

Al Alburquerque: Replaced Krol, entering the game with runners on second and third, no one out and the score 3-2 Tigers. Thinks were looking great, as Alburquerque struck out the first two batters he faced. One strike away from getting out of further trouble, the inning went completely sideways. Alburquerque served up back-to-back gopher balls to Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera, all but ending the game. Four runs had crossed the plate to cap off a seven run Indians rally, putting the Tigers down 7-3.

Chad Smith: In a 37 pitch (!) ninth inning, Smith allowed two runs on three hits and a walk to wrap up an awful night for the bullpen.

The Tigers' bullpen: Ian Krol, Al Alburquerque, Blaine Hardy, Phil Coke and Chad Smith combined to allow eight hits (three home runs), three walks, five earned runs, and two inherited runners to score, all in just three innings.

Runs left on the bases ... again: In the fourth inning, aggressive base running bit the Tigers once again. J.D. Martinez was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first base on Torii Hunter's double to right.

Doubleheader timing: To make up an April postponement, the Tigers have a day-night twin bill Saturday. It can't be helped, but it's not going to be in the best of circumstances. Detroit will be forced to call up rookie Drew VerHagen to make a spot start and the bullpen will definitely be needed. That bullpen won't be in the best of shape being the Tigers had to use five relievers in tonight's loss, most of whom looked awful in the process. Max Scherzer will be quite aware he will need to pitch deep into the nightcap.

NOTES:

Victor Martinez returned to the Tigers' lineup for the first time since July 4. Martinez had missed 11 of the Tigers last 13 games, including the final eight before the All-Star break and the All-Star Game as well.

Things I learned from Rod and Mario tonight: Tribe center fielder Michael Brantley's nickname is Dr. Smooth. Unfortunately, Dr. Smooth was rough on the Tigers with four hits.

STREAKS AND STATS:

Nick Castellanos' third inning double was his 21st of the season, which leads all rookies in MLB.

Ian Kinsler's third inning sacrifice fly gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. It was Detroit's 43rd sacrifice fly of the season, topping all of baseball. The Rockies are a distant second with 34.

Via the Freep, Torii Hunter is the first 39-year-old or more Tiger to steal a base since Gary Sheffield in 2008. Then again, it's not as if the Tigers have had many 39-year-old players on the roster since Sheffield moved on.

Miguel Cabrera stole his first base of the season in the sixth. He took off on the perfect pitch, as Trevor Bauer tossed a slow breaking ball which bounced to the plate.  Catcher Yan Gomes didn't even bother to make a throw. It was Cabrera's first regular season stolen base since July 7 of last season, also against the Indians. In the post-season, Cabrera, ripped groin muscle and all, somehow managed to steal second in Game Four of the ALCS.

Ex-Tiger Ryan Raburn is having an awful season, entering tonight's action hitting .199/.248/.265. Entering as a pinch-hitter during the Tribe's big rally, Raburn had his first multi-hit game since May when he doubled in both the seventh and eighth innings.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

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