A two-hour rain delay all but delayed the inevitable as the Cleveland Indians notched their ninth consecutive win over the Detroit Tigers by a score of 8-0.
Pretty much of all the damage was done in the first three innings of the game, prior to the rain delay and with Detroit starter Ryan Carpenter on the mound. Jake Bauers got it started in the second inning with a two-out opposite field single to score Jason Kipnis from third. Tyler Naquin followed with a single to put runners at the corners. Francisco Lindor proceeded to flail at a ball well outside the zone, which sliced down the first base line and caromed off the glove of Tigers first baseman Brandon Dixon. The ball was likely headed for foul territory if not for Dixon, and the result was a two-run double in favor of the Indians.
But the exclamation point on the Tribe’s five-run second inning came courtesy of Oscar Mercado, who delivered one of the most unlikely home runs you’ll ever see.
In the third inning, Jordan Luplow doubled and then traded places with José Ramírez. Ramírez, who maybe finally seems to be showing signs of life at the plate, would score on an error thanks to Carpenter botching the play at first on what should have been a groundout by Kipnis.
Naquin gave the Indians an even eight runs with a solo home run in the sixth inning. And don’t look now but Naquin is red hot at the plate in the month of July. He came into the game slashing .423/.483/.731 over the last two weeks after experiencing a ho-hum June.
Zach Plesac pitched a no-hitter, albeit three innings worth of a no-hitter thanks to the rain delay. I’m disappointed that his start was cut short because I would’ve liked to have seen how he fared against the Tigers the second and maybe even third time through the lineup, especially with the seven-run cushion he would have had. It wasn’t an especially overpowering three innings of work, as he did benefit from some exceptional glove work by Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis in the second. Plesac finished with one walk and one strikeout.
If nothing else, his pickoff move is as lethal as ever. Plesac notched his fifth pickoff in the first inning, putting him atop the big league leader board despite this being just the ninth start of his season. Opposing baserunners would be wise not to stray too far from first base.
And how about Nick Goody? With Tyler Clippard taking care of the fourth and fifth innings after the rain delay, Goody came in to handle the sixth and seventh and had yet another scoreless outing, even striking out the side in the sixth. It was his seventh consecutive scoreless relief appearance, and he has struck out 13 batters over his last 8.1 innings of work. Goody even ranks in the Top 10 for whiff rate among relievers with at least 10 innings pitched.
Tyler Olson blanked the Tigers in the eighth and ninth innings to secure the shutout and ensure the Indians only had to use three relievers on the night despite being forced to pull their starting pitcher after only three innings. And with the Twins dropping a one-run game to the Mets, the Indians have cut the division deficit to five games back in the AL Central.