Tigers, Scherzer silence Indians bats as Tribe falls 5-1
Tribe snaps five-game win streak on stellar performance by Scherzer
There would be no walk-off magic at Progressive Field on Tuesday night, but rather a tamed Tiger at the center of the diamond.
Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer silenced the red-hot Indians bats in route to a 5-1 victory over the Tribe. Having won 18 of their last 22 coming into the ballgame, Cleveland (26-18) also saw its five-game winning streak snapped, and move just one game ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central Division.
Scherzer (6-0, 3.61 ERA) silenced Tribe hitters to just one run on two hits through eight innings, improving to 2-0 against the Indians this season with a 2.81 ERA.
“Pitching is always the name of the game,” Indians centerfielder Michael Bourn said. “We had really good starting pitching tonight, but they had one good inning.”
Bourn collected two of the team’s three hits on the night, as Cleveland failed to net at least five hits for the first time since April 12.
The Tribe would strike first off the Tigers right-hander in the bottom of the first on a sac fly by left fielder Michael Brantley, as the team collected two hits in the inning.
Then, Scherzer flashed his inner Justin Verlander to mow down 22 straight Indians hitters, striking out the side in the eighth inning. Throwing 77 of his 118 pitches for strikes, Scherzer’s last fastball of the game touched 98 MPH.
“When you’re up around 115 or 120 pitches, and you have that left in the tank, that’s saying a lot,” Indians managerTerry Francona said. “It was impressive.”
“He had good stuff tonight,” Bourn said. “He kept us off balance pretty good and shut us down tonight. So tip the hat to him.”
Tribe starting pitcher Corey Kluber almost matched Scherzer pitch-for-pitch early in the game. The right hander cruised for five scoreless innings giving up just three hits and striking out a career-high eight Detroit hitters.
Then in the sixth, Tigers centerfielder Andy Dirks greeted Kluber with a solo blast to the seats in right field to tie the ballgame. After Torii Hunter would double, Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera took a 0-2 slider from Kluber over the centerfield wall for a two-run homer.
A Triple Crown winner just one year ago, Cabrera is now hitting .384 with 12 homers and 49 RBI in 43 games.
“I felt good even in the sixth inning,” Kluber said. “I just made three mistakes with balls out over the middle of the plate. They’re good hitters and took advantage of them.”
Despite the loss, Francona sees improvement with his young starter.
“I think he’s getting better and better,” Francona said. “He’s learning quickly. He just made a couple mistakes.”
Like Scherzer, Kluber (3-3, 5.19 ERA) also flexed some muscle on the radar gun, touching 95 and 96 MPH several times on the night.
“I think as he gets more confident and stays aggressive, it seems like he can reach back for more,” Francona said. “I thought Corey was extremely aggressive tonight.”
With the Tigers up just 3-1 in the ninth, Indians left-hander David Huff served up two more runs to the surging Detroit offense before closer Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless bottom half of the inning to secure the victory.
Offensively, the Tribe finished 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, leaving just four runners left on base.
“We got to Scherzer early, but we didn’t keep getting to him,” Bourn said. “We got one run off him, but not two or three off him.”
The centerfielder insured fans there are plenty of matchups between their division rivals left this season.
“It’s one game,” Bourn said. “They won but we have a lot of battles against them. They got us tonight, and we’ll be back tomorrow playing them again.”
Notes: Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Indians placed Nick Swisher on paternity leave and recalled infielder Cord Phelps from Triple-A Columbus. The Tribe first baseman is not expected to be in the lineup on Wednesday, as he will miss at least the next 1-3 days. Swisher’s wife JoAnna Garcia-Swisher gave birth to a baby girl.
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Hey Leyland, the nursing home called and said you were not allowed to sign yourself out.