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Late inning spark wakes up bats as Cleveland triumphs, 9-3

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It took a bit to catch. Once it did, the offense looked great

Cleveland Indians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

After slumbering for most of two games and six innings the Cleveland offense awoke in the seventh this afternoon against the Tigers. Every starter scored a run and all but one recorded a hit in the 9-3 victory. The breakthrough was likely welcomed by Aaron Civale, who overcame early struggles of his own to log a quality start.

Civale didn’t miss often but the Tigers pounced when he did in the early innings. Nomar Mazara homered to right scoring Willi Castro in the first, while Akil Baddoo added another dinger in the third for a 3-1 lead.

After these initial dustups, Civale settled down and dispatched batters with clinical control. Six strikeouts is a deceptive stat today — many more than six of Civale's strikeouts came today because hitters swung exactly when he wanted them to. More than a few rose to stretch 0-2 with nothing but groundouts to claim.

His final line reads 7.0, 2 H, 3 ER, 6 K, 91-57 PC-ST. I love it.

It appeared that the effort might not matter until Cleveland started to circulate and intensify in the sixth. Cesar Hernandez drew a walk and moved to third when José Ramírez doubled. Eddie Rosario grounded out to score one, but Franmil Reyes failed on a low slider to end that threat.

But Cleveland would return, and soon. In the seventh, Amed Rosario got it started by taking a slider to the opposite field. Josh Naylor roped a double down the line in right and would have scored Rosario if not for a pesky cutout in the wall through which the ball escaped.

This all set the stage for Yu Chang. He laced an 0-1 changeup to center field and scored both Rosario and Naylor to put Cleveland up 4-3. The rally paused when Austin Hedges flew out to right, but Jordan Luplow announced the intermission’s end with a towering blast to left field. He waited on another Norris slider and crunched it, pausing only for a moment to make sure it was fair before flipping his bat away; a viking discarding a blood-soaked ax after victory.

Things got worse for Detroit from there. Reyes obliterated a ball of his own and the only word that properly captures it is “moonshot”. The thing took seven seconds or so to come down and likely left a mark.

Austin Hedges earned redemption, too, when he homered to left. Not a bad day at the ballpark for Cleveland, eh?

Corner Pieces

(formerly known as Tribe Tidbits and any number of other variants)
  1. Jordan Luplow gripped the barrel of his bat and flipped it into oblivion after his seventh-inning blast. That will hold the top spot on the Cleveland Batflip Leaderboard for a little while.
  2. Chang batted in the eighth when he’d already singled and hustle-doubled on the day. He worked to a 3-1 count against Buck Farmer. A fastball came and Chang barreled it up ... right at the third baseman. Still — another great at-bat on the day and it counts as a success when it comes to approach. The results aren’t always what Yu wants, but that can’t be controlled.
  3. I’m pleased that the offense broke through for Aaron Civale. He looked excellent today despite a few mistakes and earned the win awarded by the official scorer today.
  4. Cleveland homered in three consecutive innings: the seventh, eighth, and ninth. That is a trend I can get used to.

Wait, what?

A strange batter’s interference call happened when Austin Hedges tried to make a throw to second base. His arm clunked against the hitter’s helmet — perhaps he was pondering recent thoughts from Jon Bois.

What’s Next?

Cleveland returns to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario to host the Kansas City Royals for the home opener tomorrow, April 5. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. on ESPN and first pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. Logan Allen and Danny Duffy are the probable starters.