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Indians beat Tigers, cling to chimera of relevance

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The Tigers crawl further into the cellar of the AL Central as the Indians keep their wildcard hopes alive.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers finally got a chance to play on Sunday after being rained out all weekend and they came out hot in the first game of the double header. Three pitches into the game they were up 1-0 after a Gose double and an Ian Kinsler single. Miguel Cabrera hit into a double play, extending the Tigers' league leading total to 129. The Tigers would end the inning without scoring again. Verlander had an easy nine-pitch first inning, retiring the Tribe in order.

Elsewhere in America football returned and the nation indulged, drinking beer and watching their favorite teams make their debuts. Typically it is frustrating when the NFL distracts from the Tigers right as they begin playing their most meaningful games, but there is less reason for annoyance this year. The Tigers are working for the future, testing young players, trying to see what they have and how they will compete next year. Gose, Machado, Castellanos, McCann and Moya all started today, not a bad display of youth for a team typically derided as the next Phillies. The sun was out but the weather was chilly and the crisp day felt like a transition to autumn just as the Tigers lineup foretold of the many changes that will soon come and some that have already happened. Amidst the turbulent times, Verlander's tight pants and strong arsenal were exceptionally comforting today in their familiarity. The Fox Sports Detroit broadcast cut to Jim Leyland watching the game from a box, drinking coffee and it was hard not to feel nostalgic for the Septembers past.

Verlander wore a hat that was ringed with a subtle sweat stain, likely a hat that has been lucky given his performances of late. He was hitting 94 with his fastball in the early innings and his breaking balls were more sharp than his last time out. Jose Ramirez got the first hit of the game for the Indians with a two out double in the third. He struck out Kipnis to end the inning. With one out, Steven Moya hit a bomb into deep right field that bounced off the wall beyond a blinded Lonnie Chisenhall and the six foot seven outfielder motored around to third base for his second hit of the game. It was nearly Moya's first major league home run. He would be stranded at third, a consistent theme for the Tigers in this game. They had six hits and a walk through four innings, but only one run to show for their efforts. Verlander was much more stingy with baserunners; he left the fourth inning at 52 pitches, having allowed only one hit and struck out four. The efficiency of the performance combined with Verlander's mound presence was impressive.

Cody Anderson settled down and threw a very easy fifth inning. Verlander issued a lead off walk and Yan Gomes hit a ground ball just under Miguel Cabrera's glove for a double. With runners at second and third with no out, Verlander faced his first real threat of the game. Verlander walked Almonte to load the bases with no out. The pressure was mounting. A line drive scored one run and the wheels were poised to fall off. An infield fly to Kinsler brought up Kipnis with one out. Kipnis popped out as well. Verlander did as he used to do during his days of utter dominance, he dialed it up and starting hitting 97 with his fastball. Lindor however, took a 1-2 breaking ball and hit a low liner to center field, making it 3-1 Indians. The game began to drag and it was not quite so fun anymore. Moya caught a fly ball off the bat of Brantley to mercifully end the inning.

J.D. Martinez led off the sixth with a double and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Nick Castellanos. This ended Cody Anderson's night at five and two thirds innings with three strike outs having allowed two runs, seven hits and one walk. Zach McAllister took over and issued walks to Moya, McCann and Machado. Gose put together a tremendous at bat, but struck out on the ninth pitch that he saw, leaving it 3-2, Indians going into the bottom of the sixth. Carlos Santana immediately taxed Verlander, seeing eleven pitches before striking out, driving Verlander's pitch count up to 97. Verlander hit Yan Gomes with two out in an 0-2 count and Gomes would come around to score after a single and a blooper to shallow right field. Jose Ramirez flew out, ending Verlander's night at six innings with five strikeouts, six hits, two walks and four earned runs.

You all know what the bullpen is like. Gorzelanny was like that. He gave up a double and a walk, but was bailed out when Carlos Santana hit a single and Steven Moya gunned down Lindor going for home. It was a great play and quite fun in a game that was otherwise an ocean of meh. With two outs and two on, Ausmus brought in Al Albuquerque. What was once a crisp, quick game moving along at an enjoyable clip became a more tedious affair. Kinsler made a diving play and probably should've just eaten the ball. Instead, an errant throw allowed two more Cleveland players to score, making it 6-2, Indians. Sands was thrown out going for second on the play. Albuquerque gave up three hits and a run in the eighth inning. Ian Krol came in, threw one pitch and got two outs, ending the inning.

With two outs in the ninth, Anthony Gose drew a walk. Kinsler followed with a single and Miguel came to the plate with the Tigers down 7-2. Cabrera hit a bullet to third and the game ended there.

ROARS:

Steven Moya: The young outfielder is known for his prodigious power and lack of plate discipline, but today he went two for three with a triple and a walk. He also made one hell of a throw from left field, gunning down Francisco Lindor at home plate.

Justin Verlander: Outside of the fifth inning Verlander looked really good and he is becoming a known quantity -- the Tigers can now expect a solid start when Verlander pitches and that is a welcome feeling.

Anthony Gose: The stat line doesn't necessarily show it, but Gose put together really good, tough at bats.

HISSES:

Leaving Runners on Base: The Tigers stranded an impressive 14 runners this afternoon.

The Bullpen: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • By giving up four runs, Verlander broke his streak of six consecutive quality starts.
  • Victor Martinez came into the game with a .645 OPS and another 0/4 prolongs his slump.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs