Zach Plesac pitched a gem in the Motor City on Friday night and the Cleveland Indians did the bare minimum on offense to eke out a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The Indians’ lone run came in the fifth inning. Delino DeShields lined a 101.8 mph shot over the head of center fielder Victor Reyes for a one-out triple, and Francisco Lindor stepped to the plate to bring home on a sac fly. Even with Michael Fulmer — who has been obliterated in nearly every start this season — on the mound for the first three innings, the Tribe could not take advantage. Tyler Alexander was the weak link in the Tigers’ bullpen, surrendering the decisive run. The Indians only mustered a combined two hits against Fulmer and the other four relievers Detroit deployed. Thursday night’s double-digit run production felt like a distant memory.
If any fans had been lulled to sleep watching from home, the Tribe tried to gently wake them in the ninth, drawing three walks off Bryan Garcia to load the bases with two outs. Things took an unusual turn when Gregory Soto took over for Garcia and then bounced a 97 mph sinker in front of home plate, striking the wrist of catcher Austin Romine off the bounce and sending him to the clubhouse. Eric Haase, a former member of the Cleveland organization, had to scramble to get his catcher’s gear on and take over behind the dish for Romine. César Hernández worked a nine-pitch at-bat against Soto, but grounded into a fielder’s choice at third to end the inning.
José Ramírez continued his hot streak at the plate, going 2-for-4. He tried to manufacture a run on his own in the fourth inning when he was on third with two outs and the bases loaded. Roberto Pérez was facing a 2-2 count when Ramírez made a mad dash for home plate. It was a close play, but Romine was able to apply the tag as Ramírez was making a swipe for the plate.
Fortunately, Zach Plesac made mincemeat of the Tigers’ toothless lineup. He pitched 7.2 scoreless innings, giving up only five hits and one walk and striking out 11. It was his best start of the season since pitching eight shutout innings and striking out 11 against the White Sox back in July. His change-up and slider were both effective complements to his fastball, and he utilized all three en route to recording an immaculate inning in the second frame.
James Karinchak came on in the eighth after Plesac surrendered a two-out single, then proceeded to walk Willi Castro to put runners on first and second. It turned out Karinchak was only setting the stage for fans to watch strike out Miguel Cabrera to end the inning. Well played, sir.
Interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. finally found a use for Brad Hand in the ninth, making only his second relief appearance since Sept. 7. He was able to secure the save, working around a one-out Daz Cameron triple by striking out the last two batters.