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Indians slug past Tigers and earn 8-5 victory

If you’re going to give up bombs you’ve got to return the favor

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians prevailed tonight in a game that resembled last week’s Home Run Derby at times. Hitters recorded seven dingers tonight, with Oscar Mercado and Jordy Mercer hitting two apiece. When the dust settled, Brad Hand earned another save and propelled the Indians to a 52-40 record.

Victor Reyes led off tonight’s game with a single, and he attempted to score form first when Harold Castro mashed a first-pitch double. It caromed off the wall and hopped near Oscar Mercado’s before the center fielder scooped it up and fired to Francisco Lindor. He relayed it to the plate just before Reyes collided with Roberto Pérez.

No head hunting or intentional path-blocking here, but MLB took a moment to do its due diligence anyway. They let the play stand.

From there, things got a little dicey for Adam Plutko

He gave up a sacrifice fly RBI to the Tigers in the third inning, a two-run home run to Christin Stewart in the fourth, and a solo home run to Jordy Mercer in the fifth, and a solo home run to Jeimer Candelario in the sixth. He never quite looked comfortable out there on the mound tonight. When the broke well, the floated back over the middle of the plate, and when they didn’t, they were meant to break off of the plate. Tigers hitters didn’t miss very many of either variety.

The good news is that the Indians’ offense was up to the task tonight.

In the Indians’ half of the first, José Ramírez singled to left but erased himself trying to stretch it into a double. Bobby Bradley grounded out, then Roberto Pérez walked to set up Dangerous Slugger Mike Freeman. Freeman punished Norris for this egregious error by smacking an opposite-field home run into the bleachers. Tyler Naquin and Lindor followed this scoring up with singles of their own, but Nick Castellanos tracked down a long drive by Mercado to end the inning.

Mercado got another chance in the fifth and didn’t miss; he dropped this one into the bleachers to pull the Indians within one.

In the sixth, Pérez stayed patient and drew a couple of walks before slapping a single to right center. Mike Freeman singled, too, putting runners at second and first for Tyler Naquin. He took a slider off the plate, at the knees, and snuck it past the third baseman. Stewart tried to beat the ball to the side wall but failed, so the extra carom it took back toward the field of play allowed Freeman to score from first and tie the game.

Then, there was a rain delay, every Clevelander’s favorite thing. The good news? It broke the Tribe’s way this time.

They took the lead in the bottom of the seventh off of the Tigers’ bullpen. Mercado led the inning off with his second home run of the night. Then, Santana and Jordan Luplow both singled. Ramírez doubled to right and sent both of them home, stretching the lead to 8-5.

Brad Hand made it a little bit interesting when he gave up the seventh and final dinger of the night in the ninth, but he settled in after a subsequent single and retired the next three in order.

Let’s Go Tribe presents the section entitled “Tribe Tidbits”

  • Trevor Rosenthal almost killed a man several times. One of the balls he uncorked in the high nineties cruised an inch from Naquin’s butt; another landed wide behind the opposite batters box.
  • Hand gave up a home run and a single. Despite this, his backdoor slider looked untouchable tonight. He dropped a handful of them in on Tiger’s hitters who just couldn’t pull the trigger.
  • Mike Freeman made a ridiculous play in the top of the sixth. He ranged well into the left side of the infield to track down a grounder, then fired off an excellent jump throw that just beat the runner. Without this, the solo shot Putko allowed in the sixth probably turns into a twofer.
  • Travis D’Arnaud hit three home runs against the Yankees tonight, including a three-run shot to put the Rays up by one and win the game. I know this has nothing to do with the Indians, but it’s just too good to not write about. His WPA was 0.953, you guys.
  • The bottom of the Indians order — Pérez, Freeman, and Naquin — went 5-for-10 tonight with two walks, four RBI, and four runs. Their efforts, plus a three-hit game by Mercado and the continued resurgence of Ramírez are the reason the Tribe won tonight.

The Indians and Tigers play the second game of the series tomorrow night with Zach Plesac as the scheduled starter. As of right now I don’t see a probably for the Tigers. Given how they performed tonight ... how about a bullpen day, guys?