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Tigers 5, Indians 3: They actually won!

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The first half is over, but it went out on a nice note.

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

What do you do when you’re facing a team that is looking to sweep the series against you going into the All-Star break, with one of the best pitchers in baseball taking the mound? Well, if you’re the Tigers you wear down Corey Kluber with lengthy at bats, getting him to 100 pitches by the fifth inning.

It didn’t hurt the Tigers odds that Jason Kipnis was sent to the disabled list after Saturday’s game, and Lonnie Chisenhall, who has been superb for the team, left the game with a right calf injury.

The Tigers took every advantage they could get, with Michael Fulmer putting on one of his best performances against the Indians this season, keeping the score 1-1 through five innings. The offense, unsurprisingly, struggled against Kluber, but by wearing him down early they got a chance to take on the Indians bullpen.

Nick Goody didn’t last the sixth inning, after loading the bases he gave way to Dan Otero. Otero wasn’t able to get through the inning cleanly, though, giving up three runs, and handing the lead to the Tigers. He gave up one more RBI to Nick Castellanos before being replaced by Zach McAllister.

Fulmer, for his part, was excellent through most of the game. He was efficient and his new-ish curveball is just nasty. Unfortunately in the bottom of the seventh, red-hot Jose Ramirez took him long, with a two-run home run blast. It’s only the seventh home run Fulmer has allowed this season. It’s the sixth home run Ramirez has hit against the Tigers this season. The home run and one more hit were the end of the line for Fulmer. His final line was 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 87 pitches.

Miguel Cabrera blew someone up with a bat bazooka. Nice to see the Tigers having fun.

Shane Greene relieved Fulmer and managed to stop the bleeding, keeping the game from getting too out of hand or adding anything else to Fulmer’s line. Greene started to get shaky in the eighth, and was replace by Justin Wilson, who was obviously intended for a four-out close. Unfortunately Wilson walked Brandon Guyer, loading the bases. Ultimately he was able to shut the eighth inning down, though. Phew. Wilson went on to finish the ninth and hold on to the close, with a brief moment of drama from Zimmer. Sweep averted.

ROARS:

J.D. Martinez - there aren’t a lot of fast guys in the Tigers lineup, but Martinez showed serious hustle getting to first base in the sixth inning, keeping the Indians from collecting a double play. He also got super lucky on a stolen base pick off that missed, sending him to third base in the seventh.

Alex Presley with a juuuuuuust fair hit to left field took advantage of a change up from Dan Otero that didn’t drop, and managed to score two runs. This set the ball rolling in the sixth for the Tigers to take a much-needed lead in the game. He also got a hit in the seventh to advance Castellanos to third.

Nick Castellanos - showing more of the long at-bat discipline that helped the Tigers throughout the game, Castellanos was able to reward Martinez’s stolen base luck and turn it into another run.

HISSES:

Tigers were unable to take advantage of a bases loaded situation in the fifth inning. Of course, they managed to turn things around in the sixth, loading the bases again and making the most of it.

A light in the background stalled the game in the seventh, creating a distraction to the middle infield and the pitcher. Progressive’s DJ had fun with it, playing “Eye of the Tiger.” If we’re playing the conspiracy theory game, it seems likely that Ian Kinsler complained about the light in order to give Fulmer a breather after the Ramirez home run.

STREAKS & INFO:

This is the first time in 11 seasons the Tigers have gone into the All-Star break below the .500 mark. Thanks for that tidbit, ESPN.

The Tigers survived the first half. Time for a well-earned rest and reset for everyone over the break.