Indians fall to Detroit late 4-2, lose four-game series
Martinez kills the Tribe again as Scherzer pitches another gem
You could say it was the Indians offense rather than the rain that fell harder at Progressive Field on Monday.
Entering the ballgame 5-0 in extra innings, the Tribe fell 4-2 in 10 innings to Detroit, losing the series three games to four.
“We had some opportunities, but you just have to give a lot of credit to Scherzer,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We threatened a lot, but that’s why his record is what it is.”
With the game tied at two in the tenth, former Indians catcher Victor Martinez ripped the hearts out of Tribe fans on a two-run double off Matt Albers. The four-time All-Star and Cleveland backstop went 7-for-15 in the series with four RBI.
“The pitch to Victor was a breaking ball I was trying to keep down and away,” Albers said. “It just kind of leaped back over the plate.”
Cleveland (46-43) fall 3 1/2 games behind Detroit in the American League Central, having now lost eight of their last nine against their division rivals.
For the fourth time in the four game series, the surging Tigers offense jumped out to the early 1-0 lead off Tribe starter Scott Kazmir (4-4, 4.74 ERA).
Detroit’s other former Indian Jhonny Peralta, gave Detroit the first run of the ballgame with an RBI single off Kazmir in the second inning.
Dodging raindrops to start the home half of the second, Cleveland answered like they have all season long with runners in scoring position and two outs. But not before rain would interrupt the early rally.
With rain falling, Scherzer did his best impression of Mike Hargrove trying to stall the game with third basemanLonnie Chisenhall in the batter’s box. After a long seven pitch at-bat, that’s exactly what Scherzer would get.
With runners on second and third with two outs, and Chisenhall down in the count 2-2, home plate umpire Andy Fletcher called for the tarp to be pulled.
After a quick 20 minute rain delay, Chiz greeted Scherzer with a two-run single on the first pitch after the delay to put the Tribe up 2-1.
“Ty [Van Burkleo] has been wanting him to have longer at bats,” Francona joked.
The Tribe kept their one run lead until the fourth inning, when Tigers left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo belted a 3-2 pitch to the seats in right field off Kazmir tying the ballgame at two.
It was the last run Kazmir would give up, as the southpaw yielded just two runs on four hits through 5 2/3 innings.
“When you can locate your fastball, you can pitch against any lineup with success,” Francona said. “Once he did that, he did a nice job.”
With Yan Gomes behind the plate, Kazmir is now 3-1 with a 3.31 ERA in nine starts. He also remains an undefeated 4-0 in seven starts at Progressive Field.
Scherzer lasted longer than Kazmir despite running up his pitch count. Tossing seven innings, he also surrendered two runs but on seven hits throwing 117 pitches. While he gave Detroit yet another quality effort, the All-Star wasn’t able to pick up his fourteenth win.
“He used to be a thrower, now he’s a pitcher,” right fielder Nick Swisher said.
After Kazmir exited the ballgame, Francona used four relievers in Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, Joe Smith and Chris Perez. All four came up big out of the highly-scrutinized bullpen, combining for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland went to his bullpen for left-hander Drew Smyly to face Chisenhall. Pinch runner Drew Stubbs moved to second base on a wild pitch by Smyly, but would not advance any further.
Choosing not to bunt, Chisenhall flew out to shallow centerfield before Smyly would get Gomes to strikeout andMichael Bourn to fly out as well.
“We just couldn’t push a run across,” Francona said. ”Bunting is always an option. I just didn’t think it was our best option.”
“To Cabrera I just missed little bit off the plate,” Albers said. A guy like Cabrera probably gets that call. Those are the kind of pitches you want to make to them.”
Scoring just two run on 10 hits, the Indians went just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position leaving 10 left on base. The team also falls to a dismal 8-29 when scoring three runs or less.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.