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Cleves 8, Tigers 6: Homers for everyone!

Unfortunately, the Tigers found themselves on the short end of a mini-slugfest.

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

The Tigers came back from a 2-0 deficit... and the bullpen squandered it, with Cleveland taking the first game of a four-game series 8-6. But hey, we scored some runs two days in a row, that’s pretty great!

Leading off the game was Victor Reyes, who hit a sharp single to right; Harold Castro followed with a first-pitch double off the top of the wall in center. Reyes attempted to score but, despite looking at the replay to see if Cleves catcher Roberto Perez illegally blocked the plate, the umpires ruled Reyes out. Remember, kids: if you’re the catcher, and you don’t have the ball, you have to give the runner a path to the plate.

Daniel Norris came out firing, striking out three in the first. He got himself into trouble soon after, though: a one-out Perez walk in the second preceded a Mike Freeman home run, and the Spiders went up 2-0. The bottom of the Cleves’ lineup, and then back around to the top, was definitely getting some good swings in against Norris.

Jordy Mercer led off the top of the third with a double to center, advanced to third on a Reyes lineout, and scored on a Castro sacrifice fly. Productive outs! Driving a runner home from third with less than two out! Imagine that. Then, in the top of the fourth, Christin Stewart turned an Adam Plutko offering around with Nicholas Castellanos aboard to put the Tigers ahead 3-2.

After that unpleasantness in the bottom of the second, though, Norris settled down quite nicely, with plenty of swinging strikeouts, for the next two innings; through four, he’d struck out seven.

You can’t stop Jordy Mercer: he clubbed a solo home run over the big wall in left to lead off the fifth and make it 4-2. Jeimer Candelario hopped into the homer parade in the sixth to make it 5-3 (after Oscar Mercado made it 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth), which chased Plutko.

Norris’ night ended with two outs in the sixth, after 89 pitches and a pair of line-drive singles to right. Daniel Stumpf took over and promptly gave up a double along the left field line to the very first batter he faced, tying the score at 5 and making Norris’ final line a lot uglier than it should’ve been.

See, here’s the thing I don’t get, and maybe I’m way off here — you tell me. Let’s say you have three pitchers in a game, a starter and a pair of relievers, and in another game you have got six pitchers. Let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that your relievers aren’t so great (e.g. Detroit, 2019), and let’s say a given reliever has a 25% chance of having a bad outing.

The chances of two relievers both having good outings is (0.75)(0.75) = 56.3%, which is better than a coin-flip; hopefully the manager knows what he’s doing and knows how the matchups work to improve those odds. But, the chances of five relievers all having good outings is (0.75)(0.75)(0.75)(0.75)(0.75) = 23.7%, and that’s not great. You’ve got better than a three-quarters chance that one reliever is going to have a meltdown, and that might cost you the game.

These are the things I think about when relievers cough up game-tying doubles to the first batter they face. Moving on...

In the top of the seventh, Mother Nature decided it was time for a little break in the action. Nick wasn’t having any of it:

Victor Alcántara got the last out of the sixth, sat for the rain delay, and promptly gave up a Mercado home run and three sharp hits to Carlos Santana, Jordan Luplow and Jose Ramirez, and it was 8-5 before you could blink.

Gardy, what are you doing here? A reliever sat for an hour. Come on.

After Jose Cisnero extinguished the dumpster fire Alcántara started, we got to see Trevor Rosenthal for the first time. His second pitch touched triple digits... and his third went behind Tyler Naquin. He put another wild one behind the opposite batter’s box against Mercado so, clearly, Rick Anderson has his work cut out for him. I mean, if he can actually control his pitches, that’d be something. I just hope he doesn’t kill anyone out there.

Mercer buggy-whipped another one into the stands on the first pitch of the ninth to close the gap to 8-6, and Reyes singled. But then Harold Castro lined out, and Miguel Cabrera and Castellanos struck out.

Stats and Notes

  • Coming into tonight’s game, two-hole hitter Harold Castro was slashing .433/.438/.633 since July 3, including four hits in yesterday’s tilt against the Royals. His BABIP over this stretch is a flukey .481 so there’s obviously a bit of luck there, but hey, I’ll take it. He’s also played every defensive position except pitcher and catcher, and has DH’d. He was 2-for-4 with a double tonight.
  • Norris’ final line: 5 23 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. If it wasn’t for Daniel Stumpf, that would’ve been a line I’d take from him any day of the week.
  • Today would have been Rembrandt’s 413th birthday. I don’t know if you know anything about art; I sure don’t, but when I saw a bunch of his paintings in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam years ago, I’ll tell ya, I didn’t need to be any kind of art expert to know those were good.