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Cleveland offense unable to overcome onslaught of Tiger runs

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One. The Tigers scored one run

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The audacity of this Tigers team. They come out with their “bats” and “swings” and think they can just score a run and win? Well, they can. It’s what they did tonight against a Cleveland lineup that was incapable of hitting anything not lasered right to a defender.

This isn’t really a game worth recapping inning by inning, so we’ll just jump to the end: Cleveland lost, 1-0, when the Tigers doubled in the bottom of the eighth, bunted the runner over, and got him in with a sac fly. Cleveland responded by striking out, walking, and getting thrown out on a double play. Game over.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — Cleveland did actually hit quite a few balls hard tonight, just hardly any of them went for base hits. Seven of the 10 hardest-hit balls were off Cleveland bats, led by Josh Naylor’s 107.5 mph lineout in the fourth inning. Only two of those hard-hit balls actually resulted in base-runners: Eddie Rosario’s single and Owen Miller’s double in the second.

Miller was once again a bright spot in tonight’s game, with the aforementioned double and his hair as flowing as ever. He also hustled his butt off on a dribbler down the first-base line that José Cisnero couldn’t catch off the flip from Miguel Cabrera. Even if he caught it, the play would have been bang-bang at worst and ending with Miller safe at best. The fact that he was even close showed a ton of hustle on his part as he exploded out of the box and kept his head down the whole way to first.

Unfortunately, everyone else in the lineup was required to bat according to MLB rules, and everyone else was not good.

Harold Ramirez came up in a potentially clutch spot in the top of the ninth. Struck out.

Jake Bauers struck out and didn’t even look that competitive at the plate.

Josh Naylor had a hit.

José Ramírez got nothing good to hit and was walked twice.

Jordan Luplow faked being hit by a pitch, and then eventually walked anyway after the call was overturned. He didn’t score.

When they did manage to hit, Cleveland baserunners were getting thrown out far too frequently. Ramírez started it in the first when he got caught stealing, then Naylor followed by getting thrown out at home on Miller’s double in the second. Both were the third out of the inning, and apparently a sign of bad things to come.

Just a bad day at the office for Cleveland’s offense, which is bound to happen eventually. It just seems like it happens more often than not for this offense.

On the good side of things, Triston McKenzie was electric in his first start since technically being demoted last week. He was able to bypass the required 10-day stint in Triple-A after being optioned when it was announced he was replacing the injured Zach Plesac on the roster. From here, he’ll probably be sent back to Columbus where he’ll twiddle his thumbs until Monday and be called up to be Cleveland’s 27th man to start in one of their two games the White Sox. Even if he doesn’t come back right away, he gave the front office and Terry Francona one hell of a start to remember him by.

Against the Tigers, McKenzie got ahead in counts frequently and was able to use his off-speed stuff more often. The velocity on his four-seamer was back up to 92.1 on average, topping out at 94.1. Not quite the highs we saw in his season debut, but better than he had been hitting when he wasn’t pitching for his life. In addition to the fastball, which he threw 38 times, he also threw his curveball 20 times, his slider 11 times, and his changeup four times. He was finding the edge of the zone brilliantly — especially with his curveball — and cut through an admittedly weak Tigers lineup with ease.

Cal Quantrill, who is likely to be another starter in the carousel of arms currently running in Cleveland, closed out the game by throwing 38 pitches in addition to McKenzie’s 73. He relied primarily on his sinker, which was put into play four times with an average exit velocity of just 76.5 mph.

Corner Pieces

  • Look at this graph.
  • McKenzie’s first pitch was 90.4 mph, and his last pitch was 90.6 mph. There were some up and downs that helped it average out to a little over 92 mph, but I’m just happy to not see a precipitous drop throughout the game this time.

Wait, what?

Look at patient Eddie over here. It’s not every day we see him lay off so many pitches out of the zone.

Baseball Savant

What’s next

Death, eventually. The Tigers again tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET.