The Tigers probably never stood a chance on Thursday evening, facing a team that has beaten them approximately 87 times in a row with one of the league’s best starters on the mound. To no one’s surprise, the Indians swept the series, winning the finale 7-0.
Mike Clevinger entered the game with a dazzling 2.68 ERA, sixth among all starters with at least 100 innings pitched, but it looked like the Tigers might get to him early. Harold Castro and Miguel Cabrera hit back-to-back one-out singles and Jeimer Candelario drew a two out walk to load the bases, but Jordy Mercer was unable to bring anyone home.
The Indians took advantage in the bottom half of the frame, going up 1-0 on a Francisco Lindor double, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly against Daniel Norris. As he has for the last seven starts, the southpaw entered the game knowing he would pitch exactly three innings and then pass the ball to the bullpen, typically to Drew VerHagen in particular.
Norris pitched fairly well in the second and third innings, finishing his day with three hits, one strikeout, no walks, and just the one run. It seems like this role is working for both him and the Tigers and it will be interesting to see if it continues into 2020.
Clevinger settled in nicely after the first inning and prevented the Tigers from having many real scoring opportunities. Their best chance against him came in the fifth inning, when Willi Castro and Victor Reyes both singled with one out, but Harold Castro and Cabrera left them stranded. Clevinger’s night ended after six shutout innings.
Meanwhile, VerHagen took over in the fourth inning as he usually does for Norris. Unfortunately his night did not go so well. After allowing the first two batters to reach base, Franmil Reyes emptied them with a three-run shot to put the home team up 4-0.
The next inning was about the same for the Indians. An Oscar Mercado single brought home Lindor after a leadoff double to make it 5-0, and a one-out single by Yasiel Puig ended VerHagen’s night. He was replaced by Edwin Jackson, who loaded the bases with two outs and almost escaped, but after being one strike away from ending the inning, he conceded a two-run knock to Roberto Perez to put the Indians up seven.
Honestly, there is not much to report from the latter half of the game. The Tigers kept adding hits sporadically, but none yielded any fruit. The closest they got was a two-out triple by Reyes in the top of the seventh, but he was stranded like every runner before him. Reyes did have a pair of nice diving catches in right field and was one of two Tigers to record multiple hits, but the highlights end around there.
Matt Hall kept the damage from getting any heavier, pitching a pair of scoreless innings after relieving Jackson. He was followed by Victor Alcantara, who did his job in the eighth. Detroit had a couple on in the top of the ninth but were unable to capitalize, ending the game 7-0.
The Tigers will be relieved to be done seeing the Indians for seven months or so, as this year was an absolute beatdown every time the teams squared off. Hopefully the competition will be slightly closer next season; it really cannot get too much worse.
Indians beat the Tigers 7-0 Thursday.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) September 20, 2019
The Tigers (45-107) have lost 17 in a row to the Indians, the longest streak to a single opponent in franchise history. They finish 1-18 against Cleveland this year, the most losses to a single opponent in MLB's divisional era (1969-now).