Tigers Prove to be Too Much for Slumping Indians
Detroit got to the Indians’ bullpen in the 8 th and ultimately defeated the Tribe 6-4
The Cleveland Indians are struggling again and it couldn’t come at a worse time. After sweeping the Rockies and Red Sox at home to start the Month of June and taking seven of their first eight games overall, the Indians have gone 4-6 since June 10 and the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Indians’ woeful defense and a pitching staff that is already showing signs of fatigue with three and a half months of baseball to go.
Friday night proved no different as the Indians dropped the first game of a very important three-game series with the Detroit Tigers 6-4 in front of one of the largest crowds of the year, over 33,000 at Progressive Field. Detroit has been slumping mightily since the Indians swept them last month and they had lost their Central Division lead to the Kansas City Royals, so they were a team ripe for the picking if the Indians could just take advantage of it.
Corey Kluber did everything he could to give the Tribe a chance on Friday night. Kluber (L, 6-5, 3.30) made just one mistake in the top of the fourth when Tigers’ DH Victor Martinez went yard for the 18 th time this season and gave the Motor City Kitties a 2-0 lead. Beyond that one bad pitch, Kluber allowed eight scattered hits over seven innings of work, issuing just one walk and fanning six batters in 109 pitches, 72 of which were strikes. The problem for Kluber was that for as well as he pitched, Rick Porcello (W, 9-4, 3.76) pitched even better.
Porcello stifled the Indians’ offense, allowing six hits over six innings of work with no runs, one walk and three strike outs. Down 0-2, the Indians sent former closer John Axford to the mound in the top of the eighth to try to keep the ball game within reach, but Axford didn’t respond accordingly and allowed three runs to give the Tigers a commanding 5-0. The Tribe was hoping for a miracle, and in the bottom of the eighth inning, it looked as if one just might transpire.
With Ian Krol on the mound for the Tigers, the Indians finally took off offensively. Mike Aviles led off the inning with a single which was followed up by a single from Michael Bourn to give the Indians two men on with nobody out. Asdrubal Cabrera would finally get the Tribe on the board with a three-run homer, his 8 th of the season, to cut the Tigers’ lead to two. After getting Jason Kipnis to fly out for the first out of the inning, Krol hung a pitch to Carlos Santana which was drilled over the left field wall for his 10 th homer of the season and cut the Tigers’ lead to just one.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, that would be as close as they would get, for in the top of the ninth, Carlos Carrasco would allow a double to Ian Kinsler which scored Rajai Davis to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead. The Indians would attempt a rally in the bottom of the ninth against Tigers’ closer Joe Nathan when Michael Brantley singled on a soft fly with two outs. Bourn stepped up to the plate representing the tying run, but after a lengthy at bat, he would strike out to end the game and put the Indians back at the .500 mark at 37-37.
The Indians hope to bounce back on Saturday but to do so they will have to defeat Justin Verlander. Verlander has not been the same pitcher this season, going 6-7 with a 4.98 ERA so he is vulnerable should the Indians’ offense show up prepared to work on Saturday. The Tribe will send Trevor Bauer to the mound who defeated the Tigers during that three-game sweep in May. The Indians are expecting the largest crowd since Opening Day on Saturday as they will be inducting current Tigers First Base Coach, Omar Vizquel in to the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame. Vizquel is one of the most popular players in Indians history and a large number of people are expected to turn out to see him take his spot in Heritage Park.
Cleveland Indians Correspondent