The Indians jumped out early today and things looked as if they might be a continuation of last night’s game, but sadly, what has passed for normal as of late set in from the second inning on for the bats, and the Tigers moved back into first place with a 6-2 win at Comerica Park, wrapping up a less-than-sterling 2-5 road trip for The Good Guys.
After the first two Indians were retired in the first by Max Scherzer, Michael Brantley hit a shot down the first-base line all the way into the corner and was on his way to third when the relay throw from Ryan Raburn got away and bounced out of play, allowing Brantley to score the game’s first run. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a double and Shin-Soo Choo made it 2-0 with a triple to the right-center field gap. Matt LaPorta stranded Choo at third, but it was a good start.
Unfortunately, the Tigers got the two runs back in a hurry in the bottom half.
Austin Jackson led off with a walk against Mitch Talbot and stole second before Don Kelly drove him home with a single, cutting the lead in half. Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera also singled, loading the bases, before Victor Martinez’s sacrifice fly tied the game at 2-2.
Talbot was able to get out of the inning without any further damage, and it stayed tied until the bottom of the fourth, when Jhonny Peralta and Raburn both homered with two outs, and Detroit went to the fifth with a 4-2 lead. The homers were Peralta’s 10th and Raburn’s sixth, respectively.
The Tribe put two on with one out in the fifth, but Carlos Santana struck out and Brantley grounded out, ending the threat.
Things got worse in the Detroit fifth when Kelly, Boesch and Cabrera all singled to start the inning, with Cabrera’s hit making it 5-2. That was all for Talbot, who lasted only four-plus innings. Frank Herrmann came on for the Tribe with a desperate mandate to try to keep the game in reach.
But Martinez singled to make it 6-2. After finally getting the first out on a force at second, Herrmann walked Alex Avila, loading the sacks for Peralta, who this time grounded into a double play to end the inning, and closing the book on Talbot (2-4, 5.02 ERA), who ended up being responsible for six runs on nine hits, with two walks and three K’s.
Choo walked with one out in the sixth and LaPorta was hit by a pitch, for the second inning in a row giving Cleveland two on with one down. But Travis Buck popped out for the second out.
Cord Phelps then drew a walk, loading the bases. That was all for Scherzer, as Al Alburquerque came on for the Tigers. Adam Everett came to the plate representing the tying run, but Everett flied out to right to end the latest non-productive threat.
Scherzer (9-2, 4.32 ERA) gave up only one hit after the first inning, and four hits overall, walking two and hitting two batters while fanning four and allowing the two runs.
Alburquerque set the Tribe down in the seventh with only a two-out infield single from Brantley, and Herrmann came out for his third inning of work. Frank gave up a leadoff hit but got the next two, including Martinez, who grounded into a double play.
Nice job by Herrmann to keep the Indians in the same zip code score-wise, but would the bats wake up from their six-innings-with-two-hits-and-no-runs slumber?
The answer, as has so often been the case as of late, was a resounding "no".
Joaquin Benoit came on in the eighth for Detroit after a clutch performance from Alburquerque. Benoit struck Choo out, then retired LaPorta on a grounder before making it a one-two-three inning by getting Buck to pop out.
Joe Smith took over from Herrmann in the Tigers’ eighth, after Herrmann dropped his ERA from 6.48 to 5.49 with his three scoreless innings (and one inherited runner having scored). Smith retired the first two before giving up back-to-back infield hits — giving Detroit 13 hits for the game — but was able to retire Austin Jackson to end the threat.
Detroit closer Jose Valverde came on for the ninth in a non-save situation. Phelps led off with his second straight walk. But Everett flied out, Grady Sizemore popped out on the first pitch he saw from Valverde, and Santana looked at a called strike three to end the game.
Maybe it is a good thing that the Indians are done seeing the American League until July 4th, when the Yankees come to Cleveland.
Now it is back home for the Tribe to face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. Let’s hope a couple of weeks of interleague play will get this ship back on course.