In the fourth inning, Ryan Raburn led off with a double for Detroit, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly from Alex Avila to put the Tigers ahead 3-0. Jeanmar Gomez then gave up another double and a single, putting runners on the corners, before finally getting out of the frame when Will Rhymes lined out.
Shin-Soo Choo singled leading off the Cleveland fourth. This time, Carlos Santana did not hit into a double play — but he did strike out (as SB Nation Cleveland’s Chris Pokorny no doubt pulled out more hair, and this writer was also tempted to). Shelley Duncan then grounded into an inning-ending double play, and things were really beginning to look grim for The Good Guys, as Detroit took their 3-0 lead to the fifth.
Gomez had allowed eight hits through his first four innings, but he was still out there for the fifth frame.
Magglio Ordonez opened the Tigers’ fifth with a single. Miguel Cabrera flied out deep enough to center for Ordonez to take second after the catch and to get into scoring position. Gomez then got Brennan Boesch to fly out and struck out Raburn to get out of trouble…a really nice job by Jeanmar to once again keep the deficit manageable.
The Indians went quietly in the bottom of the fifth, as Orlando Cabrera, Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta were retired in short order by Scherzer, who came into this season with a career record of 21-26 and is suddenly doing a Cy Young impression.
Scherzer had sailed through five innings on only 66 pitches, and was getting stronger as the game went on, having still allowed only two hits and having struck out six.
Avila singled with one out in the Detroit sixth — the Tigers’ 10th hit of the game — and then Brandon Inge reached on an error by Asdrubal Cabrera, putting runners at first and second. Gomez then got Austin Jackson looking at strike three for the second out, and Gomez was pulled after 97 pitches.
Chad Durbin came on with the responsibility of getting an out and keeping the Indians in the game. Gomez left having surrendered three runs, and even if Detroit scored in the sixth, the error would make any runs charged to Gomez in the inning unearned.
All things considered, Jeanmar did a good job tonight, going almost five innings after allowing the Tigers to jump ahead in the first and holding Detroit to only one more run during the rest of his outing.
Durbin walked Rhymes to load the bases. That brought Ordonez to the plate, and once again put Detroit in the position of being one big swing from just about putting the game about out of reach. But Durbin made the pitch he needed to, getting Ordonez looking for the third out, and (not to be redundant) keeping the game manageable — but time was getting short.
The first two Indians were retired in the bottom of the sixth before Asdrubal Cabrera singled and stole second.
Choo walked and up to the plate stepped Santana, representing the tying run and with a chance to redeem his first two at-bats with one swing,
But Santana walked to load the bases, giving the Indians their best chance of the night and bringing Shelley Duncan to the plate.
Duncan came through, driving in Asdrubal Cabrera and Choo with a single to make it 3-2.
Orlando Cabrera swung at the first pitch and grounded out to end the inning, but at least the Tribe was back in the game, down only a run heading to the seventh.