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Guardians 5, Tigers 2: Bieber fever plagues a sickly offense

Tyler Alexander was solid but the offense was unable to put anything together against Cleveland’s starter.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers faced off against a familiar rival from the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday night, looking to try and find some success against Shane Bieber despite his career dominance over them. Bieber and the rest of the Guardians instead pushed the Tiger’s scoreless innings streak to seventeen innings before they decided to be kind and offer the Tigers a free run in the ninth inning. Despite the Tiger’s best protests, they got another on a wild pitch to make the final score 5-2 Cleveland.

Tyler Alexander, aka Todd the Painter, had his brushes on point to start this one. A single to notorious Tiger Killer, Jose Ramirez, was the lone hit given up through his first three innings. Alexander had his four-seam fastball and cutter working early, quickly getting ahead of hitters and getting weak contact on an economy of pitches, 33 of them to be exact.

Amed Rosario led off the fourth inning with a double but was thrown out trying to reach third. Akil Baddoo got to the ball but threw wildly to the first base side, causing Rosario to try for third base. Fortunately, a strong throw from a quick-thinking Harold Castro reached the bag first and a nice swipe tag from Jeimer Candelario completed the play. Alexander got the other two outs to get out of the fourth inning with just 45 pitches.

On the other side of the box score, Shane Bieber was matching Alexander pitch for pitch. Through four innings he also had a low pitch count while allowing just two hits. He was also racking up the strikeouts against the Tigers’ lifeless offense. That’s the way it would be for the rest of his outing.

The only real threat the Tigers managed was in the bottom of the seventh when they got their first two on thanks to a single and a walk. But Willi Castro, Jonathan Schoop, and Tucker Barnhart were retired on eleven pitches and the threat fizzled out as quickly as it began. Bieber’s final line was strong, but remember he was facing the Tiger’s offense. Seven innings, four hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts. He threw 84 pitches.

The Guardians got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning on back-to-back one-out singles and a sacrifice fly from the bottom half of the lineup. They followed with another run in the sixth thanks to back-to-back doubles. But Alexander got through the rest of the inning unscathed. With a pitch count at 81, it looked like his night might be over but A.J. Hinch let him pitch the seventh inning. He rewarded his manager with an eight-pitch 1-2-3 inning to end his night. His final line was solid if a bit boring. Seven innings, seven hits, two runs, and two strikeouts. He threw 91 pitches.

Will Vest took over in the eighth inning and was pretty wild, coughing up three more runs to effectively put the game out of reach. James Karinchak pitched a hitless inning, with two strikeouts, including an embarrassing swinging third strike to Javier Báez that bounce two feet in front of the plate. Wily Peralta allowed a leadoff double from Andres Gimenez but stranded him at second. That led to what started as an interesting bottom of the ninth inning. Harold Castro and Victor Reyes, who had come in to pinch run for Cabrera in the seventh inning, lead off with back-to-back singles. Jeimer Candelario drew a four-pitch walk and suddenly the Tigers were looking at bases loaded and no one out against Eli Morgan.

With Emmanual Clase starting to warm up in the bullpen, the Tigers had to score now. But Willi Castro lined out and Schoop struck out to bring the Tigers down to their final out. Eric Haase pinch hit for Barnhart and drew a six-pitch walk to end the shutout streak and bring on Clase. His first pitch to Akil Baddoo was yanked inside all the way to the backstop. That plated another run and briefly give the Tigers some hope. That hope lasted two pitches as Baddoo grounded out to first to end the game.

Between Matt Manning and Tyler Alexander, the Tigers have gotten 14 innings with only two runs allowed from their starters in the last two games and lost anyway.