Cleveland Indians 1, Detroit Tigers 0
Cleveland improves to 86-62
Highlights from today's game:
Other notes on the game:
Sure, some other stuff happened. But all of it seemed inconsequential after the top of the first inning when Carlos Carrasco was hit with a comebacker by Ian Kinsler and was forced to leave the game with an injury before getting an out. Since the Cleveland Indians virtually have the AL Central virtually locked up, the outcome of this game, whether it ended in a win or a loss, really wasn't all that big of a deal either way. But losing your #2 pitcher to a liner off of his pitching hand is a loss no matter what the line score says.
Justin Verlander, who was not hit by a line drive, managed to look like vintage Verlander as he baffled the Indians through the first part of the game without allowing a hit. This was infuriating in its own right, but the frustration was magnified due to the fact that Verlander was walking batters left and right and kept giving the Tribe chance after chance to take the lead. In fact, Verlander had a no-hitter going through five innings before Jason Kipnis led off the sixth inning with a single to break up the no-hitter. But despite four walks, the Tribe offense that was so potent last night seemingly evaporated in the wake of Justin Verlander. Coupled with losing Carrasco two pitches into the game, it looked to be a long, agonizing, deflating game.
Credit should be given to the Cleveland bullpen, however. A game that was labeled as a pitcher's duel lived up to expectations, but the Tribe threw just about everyone in the bullpen at the Tigers in order to keep them off the board throughout 10 innings. Highlights would include Cody Anderson and Andrew Miller, who each went 2 scoreless innings, and Jeff Manship, who came in in the first inning and shut the Tigers down for 1.1 innings. Every other reliever who pitched (with the exception of Kyle Crockett, who only went 0.2 innings) pitched a scoreless inning. On a day when the bullpen needed to step up big time, they came through brilliantly.
The Tribe threatened in the second when, in an unusual turn of events, Mike Napoli and Jose Ramirez were walked back to back to put two on and no outs. After the sacrifice by Coco Crisp to move both runners over, Tyler Naquin and Abraham Almonte struck out and flied out to end the threat. Santana and Lindor would both get on via the walk in the next inning, but no one could bring either home.
When Verlander was done after the seventh inning, much to the surprise of pretty much everyone, it looked like it was time to end the game against a subpar Detroit bullpen. And for one fleeting, glorious moment, it looked like it was. With a walk by Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis came to the plate and roped what would have been an RBI double into right field had it not hopped over the fence. The ground rule double ended up hurting the Tribe as Santana was stopped at third and Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli both struck out to end the inning.
The Tribe had a chance to end the game in the ninth when Tyler Naquin blooped a single into center field and pinch runner Rajai Davis easily stole his 39th base on the year. Almonte was then intentionally walked. What happened next was fairly entertaining. With Bruce Rondon on the mound, Tito made it look like Lonnie Chisenhall would be coming in to pinch hit for catcher Roberto Perez. Thinking he had a leg up on Tito, Brad Ausmus countered with a pitching change and brought in Justin Wilson. Tito, the sly devil that he is, had Chisenhall turn around and walk back into the dugout and instead sent Brandon Guyer to the plate, who has an OPS of about 8000 against left handed pitchers. Sadly, Ausmus had the last laugh as Guyer grounded out to third base to push the already taxed Tribe bullpen into extra innings.
The battle of attrition ended mercifully in the bottom of the tenth inning when 3 walks by Wilson brought Birthday Boy Jose Ramirez to the plate. If you've followed the Indians at all this season, you know that Jose Ramirez is fantastic in the clutch; today was no different. Down in the count 2-2, the Angry Hamster took a pitch and lined it to center field to end the game and, realistically, Detroit's hopes at the AL Central pennant.
With today's win, the Tribe reduces their magic number to 7, meaning that they've all but locked up their ticket to the postseason. But with today's injury to Carlos Carrasco, that journey may be significantly more difficult.