Indians fall to Detroit 11-7, Tigers sweep two-game series
Tribe drops like the rain for second straight to division rival
Just as the rain fell Wednesday night, so did the Tribe Thursday morning.
After nine innings and two rain delays totaling one hour 50 minutes, the Detroit Tigers took down the Tribe 11-7, sweeping the two-game series at Progressive Field. Having won 18 of 22 coming into the highly anticipated matchup, Motown made quick work of Cleveland outscoring them 16-8 in the series.
“They just ended up scoring more runs than us,” Indians managerTerry Francona said. “I thought our guys had plenty of steam. We had guys grinding until the end.”
A grind was one way to put it, as rain put a damper on two potential comeback chances for the Tribe late in the game.
Like it was for the team most of Wednesday night, Indians starterUbaldo Jimenez did not look like himself as Tigers hitters made him work from the very outset.
Jimenez (3-3, 6.04 ERA) would last just four innings, giving up six runs on seven hits for his first loss since April 16. Coming in to the ballgame, the Tribe right-hander was 3-0 in his last four starts with a 1.90 ERA.
“It was a little hard for me to get ahead,” Jimenez said. “I kept trying to throw my curveball but it wasn’t working for me.”
Acquired at the trade deadline two seasons ago from the Colorado Rockies, Jimenez is now 1-3 with a 10.45 ERA in five home starts this year.
“I thought tonight there were some balls that he got over the middle too much for him,” Francona said.
For the second straight time this series, the Tigers offense would strike first from the very first inning.
Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera continued his torrid start to the 2013 campaign with an RBI double, followed by a sacrifice fly by former Indians catcher Victor Martinez to put the Tigers up two runs early.
Just like the team did less than two weeks ago, the Indians got to the Tigers ace early, tagging Verlander for five runs on 10 hits through five innings. While the right-hander would pick up the win, he would throw 59 pitches through the first two innings.
Centerfielder Michael Bourn tied the game up at two on an RBI single just one inning later in the second, before Jimenez imploded in the third inning. Detroit would score four runs on three RBI doubles in the inning by first baseman Prince Fielder, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and catcher Bryan Pena.
Down 6-2 in the fifth, Francona brought in long man David Huff hoping to limit the damage and keep the game close.
The left-hander did anything but put zeros on the board after Jimenez exited, as the Tigers tacked on another three runs off Huff in the inning.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus, Huff (0-0, 15.00 ERA) has given up five earned runs in just three innings.
As they have been accustomed all season, Cleveland came right back again in the bottom half of the inning. Brantley delivered on another RBI single off Verlander before first baseman Carlos Santana belted his eighth homer deep into the night.
Just as the Tribe started to get hope and gain momentum with one out in the fifth inning, the sky opened up. For 62 minutes the Indians and Tigers sat in what would be the first of two rain delays.
“Every time we got a little something going, the rain would come and kind of kill things a little,” third baseman Mark Reynolds said. “But it is what it is, you can’t control Mother Nature.”
When play resumed, Verlander (5-4, 3.66 ERA) recorded the last two outs of the inning to notch his first win against the Tribe this season.
The Indians did not go quietly, as catcher Yan Gomes hit his third homer in two games off Tigers reliever Drew Smyly, before Brantley (aka Dr. Smooth) came through in the clutch again on another RBI base hit to cut the deficit to 9-7 in the sixth.
Then, more rain fell as the tarp came back on the field for another 48 minutes before the start of the eighth inning.
The Motor City Kitties fought through the raindrops and never gave up the lead as Cabrera’s two-run long ball off lefty Rich Hill in the top of the eighth put the game away for good.
The third baseman’s thirteenth home run of the season did not exactly clear the wall like his previous 12, but rather bounce off Bourn’s glove just enough to get over the centerfield wall for the round-tripper.
“There’s a first time for everything,” Bourn said after the game. “I got to live with it. It gave them a little breathing room, but I missed it, that’s the bottom line.”
His manager was also quick to back up the gold glove centerfielder.
“That kid gave every ounce of what he had tonight,” Francona said. “I’m glad he’s on our side.”
With the loss, Cleveland (26-19) falls just a half game in front of Detroit for first place in the American League Central Division. The Tribe will now travel to historic Fenway Park as they open up a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.
Indians right-hander Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.65) will look to get the team back to their winning ways against Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster (2-4, 4.27 ERA) in the series opener. Thursday will also mark the first time Francona will manage a game in Boston since managing them from 2004-2011.
Notes: Nothing is official yet, but sources after Wednesday's loss to Detroit confirmed Huff will be designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A Columbus on Thursday, if he clears waivers. The left-hander can either accept the minor league assignment or decline it and become a free agent....Cleveland first baseman Nick Swisher is expected to come off of the MLB paternity list and join the team in Boston on Friday.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actually, Ubaldo DID look like himself. He, Kazmire & Myers are 3 shaky starters. Sooner we get Bauer & Carrasco up here the better. I agree that Giambi is basically an automatic out
Well at least we're still in first place!
I predict Francona and the tribe turns it up a notch in Bean Town!
He may end up back at Columbus but I can't see him getting another shot with the Tribe.
The silver lining in this loss is that for the second time this year the Indians got to Verlander. They got five runs off him in five innings, proving he can be beat.
Brantley with a great performance out of the cleanup spot - three straight hits with RISP. Dr. Smooth is also Dr. Cool.
I really think Jason Giambi is done. He doesn't have the bat speed to catch up to fastballs any more. He's getting to play because Swisher is on maternity leave and we've been facing right-handers, but he isn't even drawing any walks much less hitting.
Miguel Cabrera is a beast. But how long are Tribe pitchers going to continue to throw him low fastballs? He eats those for lunch, much like Travis Hafner used to do. Throw him breaking balls down to get ahead followed by high heat to get a pop up or a K.
I'm not saying you can get him out every time with the right pitch selection. But throwing him knee high fastballs is asking for trouble.
He's hard enough to retire without your center fielder handing him a home run. Fortunately it didn't happen in a tie game.
That Tiger batting order is awesome and they didn't even have Austin Jackson. The Tribe is playing great but I can't see them staying with Detroit over the course of an entire season.