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Indians 6, Tigers 2: Corey Kluber shuts down Detroit bats, bullpen continues to struggle

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Indians' ace Corey Kluber pitched into the ninth to earn his tenth win of the season. Called up for the doubleheader, Tigers' rookie Drew VerHagen kept Detroit in the game by lasting five innings in his first career start, but took the loss.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians took the first game of a day-night doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers, riding the right arm of Corey Kluber to a 9-2 victory. In taking the first two games of the series, the second place Indians pulled to within 5 1/2 games of the Tigers in the AL Central.

Kluber dominated the Tigers, falling one out short of a complete game. He was pulled after 8 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out ten, walking only one. Bryan Shaw entered the game to get the final out.

In need of a spot start, the Tigers called up rookie right-hander Drew VerHagen from Triple-A Toledo. In his first big league appearance, the wheels came off the rookie in the fifth inning, allowing four hits and all three runs. VerHagen was pulled after that shaky fifth, his day ending after 82 pitches, 47 for strikes, allowing three runs on five hits, striking out four and walking three.

Detroit's bullpen showed more cracks in extended duty. Blaine Hardy surrendered a run on two hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Phil Coke pitched around two hits in his one inning of work. In his return to the big leagues, Corey Knebel picked up where he left off, allowing two runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Tigers' pitching has had no answer for Jason Kipnis in the series. Kipnis' two hits and two RBI today give him four hits and six RBI total in the two games. Davis Murphy reached base four times, driving in two. Yan Gomes had three hits, Lonnie Chisenhall adding two. Nick Swisher's dormant bat has risen as well, an RBI double giving him four ribbies in the last two games.

Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson were the only Tigers to solve Kluber, combining for five of Detroit's seven hits. Cabrera had three hits, Jackson two hits and an RBI. J.D. Martinez capped off the Tigers' scoring with a ninth inning RBI ground ball.

ROARS:

Drew VerHagen: For a pitcher who is not believed to be in the Tigers' long-term plans, VerHagen put together a solid effort by shutting out the Tribe on one hit through four innings. The second time through the lineup is when VerHagen got into trouble, allowing three runs on four hits in the fifth, bailed out on a highlight reel double play started by Ian Kinsler. VerHagen's first big league start lasted five full innings, allowing those three runs on five hits, striking out four. Considering the bullpen situation a longer outing would have been nice, but I'm sure the Tigers will take what they got from VerHagen.

Miguel Cabrera: Hits Corey Kluber like the entire league has been hitting Ian Krol of late. Cabrera was 3-for-4 on the afternoon.

Austin Jackson: Two hits and an RBI out of the lead off spot for Jackson.

Bryan Holaday's throwing arm: The Tigers' backup backstop was credited with throwing out three of Indians on the bases. He picked off Michael Brantley off second, who was thrown out at third, while David Murphy and Lonnie Chisenhall were thrown out trying to swipe second.

HISSES:

The Martinez clan: An un-Martinez-like day from the middle-of-the-order sluggers, combining to go hitless in eight at-bats. J.D. Martinez did have an RBI ground ball in the ninth.

Nick Castellanos: Kluber dominated the rookie third baseman, striking him out in his first three at-bats. Castellanos did get a small measure of revenge, knocking Kluber out of the game with a two out double in the ninth.

Ian Kinsler: Hitless in four at-bats, 0-for-8 in the first two games of the series.

The bullpen: Another lousy game for the relievers. Blaine Hardy, Phil Coke and the just recalled Corey Knebel combined to allow seven hits and three runs in four innings of work. The Tigers really need Max Scherzer to pitch deep into the nightcap, avoiding the soft, white underbelly that is Detroit's middle relief.

NOTES:

Miguel Cabrera entered today hitting .500, 12-for-24 against Tribe starter Corey Kluber. He ended the day with three hits in four at-bats, raising his career average to .555.

The Tigers' three catcher caught stealing in today's game are the most they've had in a game since August 1, 2004 against the White Sox.

Today is Phil Coke's birthday. The newly minted 32-year-old celebrated by allowing an RBI single to Jason Kipnis in the seventh.

Detroit's last doubleheader was August 16 of last year. They were swept by the Royals, scoring just one run in the two games.

STREAKS AND STATS:

Drew VerHagen's season high in strikeouts was six with the Mud Hens. He was a K machine early on, striking out four in the first two innings.

Forced into extended duty due to early exits from Anibal Sanchez (six innings) and Drew VerHagen (five innings), the bullpen hasn't stepped up.  Their combined numbers in the first two games of the series: Seven innings, eight earned runs, 15 hits, five walks.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

ROLL CALL:

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