JaCoby Jones hit a lead-off home run to open Sunday’s matchup against the Cleveland Indians, and Daniel Norris worked a 10-pitch bottom of the first inning. It was a great start for a Tigers club looking to snap a five-game losing streak against the Tribe.
Unfortunately, the good feelings would end after that. Daniel Norris and the Tigers defense combined to allow five runs — all charged to Norris as earned runs, somehow — in the bottom of the second, and the Tigers never recovered, in an 8-3 loss.
While Jones’ solo homer was nice, the Tigers could have had more in the first inning. Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera followed Jones with a double and a single, respectively, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Unfortunately, they would still be there at the end of the inning. Niko Goodrum, Brandon Dixon, and Christin Stewart combined to strand both runners, keeping the score at 1-0.
Norris, coming off an easy 10-pitch first inning, struck out Jordan Luplow on three pitches to begin the second before the comedy of errors started. Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis both singled to right, and the recently recalled Bobby Bradley hit a ground-rule double to left that eluded Christin Stewart, scoring Ramirez.
Two pitches later, Kevin Plawecki hit what was ruled an infield single. While Goodrum had to range to his right, his throw went flying into the Indians dugout, scoring both Kipnis and Bradley. After Tyler Naquin flew out for the second out of the inning, Francisco Lindor and Oscar Mercado followed with RBI hits to score two more runs.
The Tigers didn’t really threaten from there, but they did themselves no favors either. After he singled to lead off the top of the third inning, Jones was picked off by Indians starter Zach Plesac. The eventual pickoff came after a few throws, and Jones did not dive back to first base at all. While this one mental mistake did not cost the Tigers, it certainly didn’t help.
This is not going well. Down 5-1, Plesac threw over three straight times. Looked like he had JaCoby Jones the first time, definitely picked him off the third time. And JaCoby didn't dive back any of the times. Not good.— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) June 23, 2019
The baserunning gaffes continued in the fourth when Goodrum was doubled off of first base on a Stewart line drive to second.
On a more positive note, Norris rebounded from his rough second inning to record an otherwise solid outing. It’s a bit “How was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” but Norris struck out eight and did not allow a walk in seven innings. His only misstep after the second was a solo home run off the bat of Carlos Santana that barely cleared the wall in right field (which my fantasy team appreciated), but Norris took just 93 pitches to make it through seven frames.
The Tigers offense instilled a bit of hope after Norris departed, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. Harold Castro and Bobby Wilson greeted Indians reliever Nick Goody with a pair of singles, and moved up a base when Castellanos walked with one out. Goodrum followed with a two-out single to score Castro and Wilson, but Brandon Dixon grounded out to end the frame. The 6-3 deficit was short-lived, however, as Jose Cisnero gave up a pair of runs in his 2019 season debut.