Both starting pitchers made one real mistake today.
Unfortunately for the Indians, Ubaldo Jimenez made his with two men on base, while Doug Fister made his with the bases empty, as the Detroit Tigers moved 7.5 games ahead of the Tribe with a 4-2 victory in front of a crowd of almost 40,000 at Progressive Field.
Jimenez was basically brilliant, except for in the decisive fourth inning. Jimenez went seven frames and gave up a mere two hits, but one of those was a three-run homer served up to former Indian Victor Martinez, and that proved to be the decisive hit of the game.
After three scoreless innings, Delmon Young singled with one out in the fourth. Miguel Cabrera then walked, and Martinez followed with his ninth homer of the season, putting Detroit up 3-0.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth, when the Indians scored an unearned run courtesy of a throwing error by Detroit starter and winner Doug Fister (7-13). Jason Donald singled leading off, and advanced to second on a wild pickoff throw from Fister. Ground-outs followed by Lou Marson and Grady Sizemore (in the lineup for the first time since July 17). Sizemore’s fielder’s choice scored Donald and made it 3-1.
After Jimenez toiled for 117 pitches through seven innings, Joe Smith came on for the eighth. Ramon Santiago led off with a double, and the Tigers eventually loaded the bases with one out. Miguel Cabrera then hit a slow bouncer to third that should have been a double play ball, but Donald had trouble turning at second after the force, and Cabrera was safe at first. Instead of it remaining a two-run game, Detroit had increased their lead to 4-1.
Kosuke Fukudome hit his second homer with the Indians in the bottom of the eighth, but around that long ball Fister struck out the side to run his total of Ks to 13 on the day — four more than his previous career high.
Jose Valverde came on in the ninth and stayed perfect on the season in save opportunities, retiring the Tribe in order to pick up save number 41 in 2011.
Fukudome was the only Indian with more than one hit, and his homer was the Tribe’s only extra-base hit of the day. The Indians went only 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and that "1" was also collected by Fukudome in the third, when Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs, only to see Asdrubal Cabrera strike out to end the inning.
Of course, the Tigers immediately pounced in their next at-bat.
The Indians simply have to win the last two games in this series, If Detroit leaves town 7.5 or 9.5 games ahead, the Tribe will have only 22 games to make up the deficit — and that just isn’t happening against a team as good as the Tigers.
So, Tuesday’s game at 7:05 becomes a must-win, and the Indians will be counting on Fausto Carmona to get it done.