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Indians 5, Tigers 2: Too little offense, too much Joe Nathan lead to a Tribe doubleheader sweep

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The Indians broke open a 2-2 game in the ninth inning when Carlos Santana unloaded a bases loaded double off Joe Nathan. The Tigers' offense was in stasis, the heart of the batting order combining on a 1-for-20 night.

Duane Burleson

The Cleveland Indians completed a sweep of their doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers, taking the nightcap 5-2. Cleveland broke open a 2-2 game in the ninth inning when badly struggling Detroit closer Joe Nathan gave up a two out, three RBI double to Carlos Santana. The Indians have started the second half by taking three straight from the first place Tigers, pulling within 4 1/2 games of the Al Central lead.

Unheralded Chris Dickerson carried the Tribe's offense early on. Despite owing just 15 career home runs in seven seasons, the journeyman outfielder took Tigers' starter Max Scherzer deep twice, accounting for all of Cleveland's offense before their big ninth inning rally.

"I don’t know if it was the layoff or what, but he (Nathan) kept having trouble with his command." -Brad Ausmus, stating the obvious about Joe Nathan

The Indians got a surprisingly good start from Zach McAllister, allowing just one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings. The winning pitcher was Carlos Carrasco (W, 3-3), who tossed a scorless eighth inning. Cody Allen pitched the ninth, earning his 13trh save.

Their bullpen showing the signs of strain due to overuse in the first two games of the series, the Tigers hoped Scherzer would pitch deep into the game. He couldn't, needing a season high 118 pitches to get through 5 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits and two runs, striking out four and walking four.

The first two Detroit relievers were solid. Ian Krol didn't allow a hit in 1 1/3 innings, while Joba Chamberlain needed just six pitches to retire the side in a hitless eighth. Then Joe Nathan (L, 4-3) and the ninth inning happened.

Nathan allowed a lead off double, ultimately loading the bases with two out before serving up the game-winning, bases clearing double to Santana. Nathan allowed two hits, two walks, and three runs, taking a well-earned fourth loss of the season. At the end of the inning, Nathan was booed off the mound by an angry Comerica Park crowd.

The Tigers could only muster five hits against four Indians pitchers. Two of those hits belonged to Austin Jackson, who also drove in both Detroit runs.

After the loss, manager Brad Ausmus said he thought about leaving the very effective Chamberlain in to pitch the ninth, but his surgically repaired ankle was bothering him. Thus, Joe Nathan got the ninth inning nod. You know what happened from there.

ROARS:

Max Scherzer: He'll get a hiss because of other circumstances, but Scherzer also gets a roar. He had to pitch through neck soreness which led to battling with his command all night, yet still managed to hold the Indians to six hits and two runs over 5 2/3 innings. If only Chris Dickerson didn't come to the plate...

Ian Krol: Got some help from nice catches by Austin Jackson and J.D. Martinez, but Krol settled in to pitch 1 1/3 hittless innings of relief.

Austin Jackson: He was the Tigers' offense in the nightcap with two RBI. Accounted for all of Detroit's scoring with a bases loaded walk in the third and a two out triple in the seventh (MLB.com video).

Joba Chamberlain: Talk about lock down relief - One inning, six pitches, three outs.

HISSES:

Max Scherzer' pitch count: On a night where the Tigers are playing a doubleheader and the bullpen is frayed due to  throwing seven innings in the previous two games, the last thing the Tigers needed was high pitch count Max Scherzer to return. But that's what happened, Scherzer crossing the 90 pitch mark in the fourth. An eight pitch fifth bought Scherzer one more inning. That ended badly when Chris Dickerson homered on Scherzer's 118th and final pitch with two out in the sixth.

Chris Dickerson: Entered tonight's game 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts against Scherzer for his career. Tonight Dickerson reached base three times against Scherzer, drawing a walk along with his pair of solo home runs. It was a true "You can't predict baseball" performance.

J.D. Martinez: Has the much feared, but somewhat expected, regression begun? Martinez struck out three times in an 0-for-4 night, and is now 1-for-12 with five strikeouts in his first three games post All-Star break.

"I’m sure there’s a possibility I could reach a point sometime. I’m not near that point. I’ll let you know when I am." -Ausmus, when asked if he would consider replacing Nathan as his closer

The heart of the Tigers' batting order: Ian Kinser, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez were a combined 1-for-20 with six strikeouts. It would be hard to beat a Little League team with that lack of production. You can point fingers at Joe Nathan, but I'm surprised the game was even close enough for him to blow when the Tigers get absolutely no offense from their best bats.

Joe Nathan: A brutal ninth inning for Detroit's apparently washed up closer. Two hits, two walks, three runs, and an ERA now at 6.23.

What makes the ninth even more ironic was Ken Rosenthal reporting earlier in the Fox Sports 1 broadcast the Tigers want to acquire bullpen help, but don't want to replace Nathan as their closer.

NOTES:

There were pregame reports Max Scherzer may have had arm issues while warming up. Trainer Kevin Rand was seen in the bullpen with the Tigers' All-Star, reportedly investigating his shoulder. Rick Porcello was seen heading to the bullpen as well, leading to speculation he would be an emergency starter. Scherzer did take the mound to start the game, but was visibly shaking his arm in the first inning, as if to loosen it up. Whatever was bothering him appeared to go away as the game progressed.

Later in the game Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported Scherzer had actually been dealing with a neck cramp. There was no arm distress involved. Everyone exhale.

Post game, Brad Ausmus admitted Scherzer was nearly scratched and Porcello would have replaced him. Ausmus added the neck issue affected Scherzer all game long. Scherzer claims he will be fine for his next start.

After the doubleheader Drew VerHagen, who was tagged with the loss in his first career start this afternoon, was optioned back to Triple-A Toledo.

STREAKS AND STATS:

The Indians' doubleheader sweep was their first in Detroit since July 17, 1966.

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed Chris Dickerson is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right!

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

ROLL CALL:

Total comments 343
Total commenters 24
Commenter list Alex Baker, Bent82, BigAl, C5wynn, ClevelandJames, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, House by the Side of the Road, J_the_Man, Jacob30, Jeff Price, Kwisatz Haderach, NCDee, RedWingedLigerFan, Singledigit, SpartanHT, Tigerdog1, Toll Booth Willie, Verlanderful, Wolfgang97, knucklescarbone, sluggonauts, stevenyc, subic sailor
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2014/7/19/5918693/game-94-tigers-vs-indians-7-08-p-m

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 Wolfgang97 50
2 Verlanderful 32
3 NCDee 30
4 ClevelandJames 27
5 SpartanHT 27
6 stevenyc 26
7 Alex Baker 22
8 Singledigit 20
9 J_the_Man 18
10 Jacob30 13
11 Bent82 13

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
2 Alex Baker looks like I picked the wrong series to quit drinking
1 NCDee [no title]
1 NCDee What blues said.
1 stevenyc Since we didn't take the lead, I would use Joba for another inning
1 J_the_Man Wheel of DOOOOM, whose fault is it that I'm suffering watching this game?
1 Alex Baker Redd Foxx standing by
1 ClevelandJames [no title]
1 J_the_Man Red Five standing by...