Mike Clevenger and Mike Fiers had a pretty nice pitching duel going for six innings, but this one stretched 12 frames before Jeimer Candelario crunched a Cody Allen offering deep into the night to walk it off for the Tigers.
For six innings fans saw a quality display of pitching and defense from the two clubs. After each allowed a quick run in the early going, the game settled into a duel between the twitchy, power funk of Clevenger, and Fiers’ languid, slinging deception.
Leonys Martin and Miguel Cabrera drew first inning walks from Clevenger as he settled in. Victor Martinez roped a single the opposite way to plate Martin, but the rest were stranded. And for the next five innings, the Tigers couldn’t do a thing. Clevenger was absolutely dominant, retiring 16 Tigers in a row.
Mike Fiers managed to match him. Yan Gomes jumped Fiers for a solo shot in the second inning, but Fiers retired 12 of 13 at one point, and gave the Tigers seven innings of one-run ball. Both pitchers saw some nice defense on their behalf.
Leonys Martin ran down a Jason Kipnis fly ball on the warning track in straightaway centerfield and made the most casual over the shoulder catch on a 415-foot flyball you’ll ever see. Jose Ramirez picked a JaCoby Jones bunt down the third base line one-handed and threw him out by a step. Francisco Lindor snared a rocket off Nicholas Castellanos’ bat. It was a brisk well-defended game with little traffic on the bases until the seventh inning.
Fiers stepped in it a bit here, pitching himself into a two-on, no out jam. A leadoff double by Lonnie Chisenhall, and a walk to Yonder Alonso looked like the wheels coming off, but Fiers gutted his way through it. He punched out Jason Kipnis and got Melky Cabrera on a routine fly to right. With Fiers over 100 pitches, and Louis Coleman warm, Ron Gardenhire elected to stick with his starter, and Fiers rewarded him. On a 3-2 pitch, he placed a fastball belt high but outside and Gomes swung through it. A very stoked Mike Fiers stalked back to his dugout, and presumably, though this is unconfirmed and in fact totally made up, proceeded to stalk the dugout with a plastic goose imploring his teammates to rise up and score him some runs.
If he did, it worked, sort of. Three straight one-out singles from Martinez, Jones and McCann loaded the bases for Jose Iglesias. Clevenger walked home a run and it looked like a rout might follow. It did not. Dixon Machado flew out and Martin popped up against reliever Oliver Perez to end the threat and leave the Tigers in another tight game heading into the eighth and ninth innings. And, as it turned out the lead lasted only one pitch.
Louis Coleman came on in relief, and Rajai Davis ambushed him first pitch and smoked a fastball over the fences in left field. Tie game. Coleman bounced back to strike out Francisco Lindor, but allowed a single to Michael Brantley. Coleman bounced back again to punch out Jose Ramirez. With two outs and Brantley on first, Gardenhire went to Alex Wilson to get Lonnie Chisenhall and it worked out. Chisenhall offered up a routine grounder to Iglesias to end the frame.
The Tigers went quickly in the bottom of the eighth, and the Indians went quickly against Shane Greene, pitching the ninth in a 2-2 game. He needed just seven pitches to retire the side.
Victor Reyes, who entered the game to pinch run for Victor Martinez in the eighth, led off the ninth with a single back through the box. James McCann flew out to the corner in left. Reyes stole second base, but JaCoby Jones grounded out and Iglesias popped up to send this to extras.
Buck Farmer got three ground balls as he pitched into the heart of the Indians order in the tenth. Leonys Martin singled with one out, and got to third as Castellanos fought off a 1-2 fastball on his hands and sprayed it into left field. The Indians put Cabrera on, and Jeimer Candelario lined out to Lindor. That left Victor Reyes to come up with the bases loaded game winner, but alas, he grounded one in the hole and Lindor threw to third to force Castellanos and end the inning.
Farmer got in trouble with a pair of walks in the eleventh, but Warwick Saupold was able to escape, in part thanks to a ludicrous bunt attempt by Lonnie Chisenhall with one-out and men on first and second base. In the bottom of the frame, Jose Iglesias smoked a ball to the scoreboard in right-center, hit the jets and roared into third with a two-out triple. Unfortunately a shallow fly ball to center off the bat of Dixon Machado sent things on to the twelfth.
Saupold cruised through his second inning of work.
In the bottom of the 12th, Terry Francona turned to his closer, Cody Allen. Allen punched out Martin and Castellanos grounded out to shortstop, but then Miguel Cabrera drilled a single up the middle. Jeimer Candelario stepped to the plate and clubbed a fastball DEEP into the seats in right to walk it off.
Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?
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Mike Fiers: 7.0 IP, ER, 5 H, BB, 8 SO
Martinez: 2-3, RBI
Candelario: 1-6, R, 2 RBI, HR, 2 SO