Cleveland Indians 5, Detroit Tigers 8
Indians fall to 32-37
The law of averages would say that the Cleveland Indians should eventually win a game at home against the Detroit Tigers, but if tonight's series opener is any indication, it's not happening any time soon. Despite the lopsided score, it's a game that could have been a lot worse if a couple of key calls hadn't gone the Tribe's way. Even still, it felt like more of a blowout than the final score would indicate.
Like any pitcher, Trevor Bauer has his off days. Normally for Bauer, his downfall comes after a close call doesn't go his way or some other kind of adversity is met. Basically, if he's going to be bad, he will usually at least put on a show for a few innings before imploding and giving up a series of runs that eventually bury the team. This time however, he spread the misery out over a short three innings of work, and he didn't look particularly sharp in any of them.
His fastball had trouble getting over 92-93 MPH (I saw it hit 94 a couple of times, but I don't recall anything higher), and it resulted in him lasting only three innings and five batters. In that short time, which took him a whopping 88 pitches to work through, Bauer allowed seven earned runs on nine hits and four walks. Weirdly enough, his off-speed stuff seemed to be working for the most part: a lot of breaking balls and sliders -- most notable a big one against Miguel Cabrera -- made batters look silly at times, but without his fastball blowing anyone away it was only a matter of time before the big Tigers lineup tee'd off, and they continually did so.
Things didn't look good from the first inning where Bauer loaded the bases, but he at least managed to just barely work his way out of that one by making James McCann ground out to second. The problem is that the first inning wasn't a fluke, Trevor was just off all night. His crawling and predictable fastballs continued to get hammered as he struggled to get anyone out in a reasonable number of pitches. Arguably his best inning, the third, was marred by a Yoenis Cespedes solo home run to lead things off. Following that, Bauer sat down J.D. Martinez, James McCann, and Andrew Romine in order.
Enter the fourth inning and the fall of Bauer. After Jose Iglesias, Anthony Gose, and Ian Kinsler loaded the bases to start the inning, Bauer walked Cabrera and in turn walked a run home, which honestly isn't a terrible fate all things considered, but the damage just kept coming. The final straw was a Victor Martinez single that scored Kinsler and put Cabrera at third. From there, the bullpen took over and did an admirable job not letting the offensive show continue and keeping the score within a reasonable distance. Unfortunately, there is also an offensive component to baseball and the Tribe fell completely flat in that aspect tonight.
Indians batters almost made a game of it in the third inning. At the time, the Tigers only had three runs and the Indians were able to match that thanks to the bats of Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley, along with the "speed" of Roberto Perez who doubled off of a groundball that made its way out to right field.
As an aside, I'm constantly impressed at how well Perez runs the bases. Whether he's sneaking all the way from first-to-third, making it home on a close sac fly, or reading a ball perfectly for a double like he does tonight, he's the epitome of not having speed but making the best of what he has.
If you gave up and stopped watching once the Tribe went down 7-3 after Detroit's big fourth inning, you didn't miss much. The Indians started a small response in their half of the fourth, but like the Tigers in the opening frame, they were nice enough to leave the bases loaded with minimal (in this case, zero) damage. David Murphy's eighth inning home run and even Roberto Perez's ninth inning solo shot came at a point when the rest of the offense was too deep into REM sleep to wake up and doing anything productive.
One encouraging aspect of the game in the sea of misery and boredom was Francisco Lindor. We've known about his defense prowess for years now, and it's remained hidden through most of this season -- even in Triple-A -- but boy did he ever show it tonight. In particular one tremendous diving stop in the fifth inning and a great flip to Kipnis earlier in the showed some flashes of what we can expect from him in the future at shortstop.
The great thing about baseball is that there is always tomorrow, and the Indians have to win at home eventually. Danny Salazar will take the mound for the Tribe and try and give the home crowd something to cheer about.
Win Expectancy Chart
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