For some reason, losing to Detroit just feels worse than losing to any other team.
On Friday night, the Cleveland Indians (18-15) rolled into Detroit, MI looking to show the Motor City Kitties that they were a force to be reckoned with in the American League Central. Within the span of a few innings, however, all the good vibes that the team built up over the past week or so evaporated, as everything that could go wrong went wrong en route to a 10-4 loss. Corey Kluber (2-2) didn’t have anything resembling good command and was simply outclassed by the potent Tigers lineup. Meanwhile, the defense did nothing to help out the cause as they had two errors that directly contributed to runs: Mark Reynolds mistook a bat for a ball (seriously) and botched a grounder right before Miggy put one deep in the seats, and Lonnie Chisenhall booted an easy play in the 9th that led to a Victor Martinez RBI single.
The MVP of the game (or LVP), however, has to be Corey Kluber. I don’t want to be too hard on the guy, because he is just a depth guy pressed into action, but he was downright awful tonight. He walked two (including Austin Jackson to open the game), but most of his mistakes ended up over the heart of the plate. Both Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera hit home runs on the first pitch of their at-bats as Kluber gave them each a BP fastball. I think Kluber will end up sticking around, with the double header looming on Monday (Unless Brett Myers … *shudder* … is healthy), but he shouldn’t be considered anything other than a fringe 5th starter moving forward.
The lone bright spot for the Indians came via the bat of Nick Swisher, who finished a Home Run shy of the cycle (3-4 overall), including a 2-out double in the top of the first to give the Tribe the lead, albeit briefly. The rest of the Indians offense looked completely overmatched by Tigers SP Max Scherzer (more on him in a moment), but they did scrape together four runs through some very solid situational hitting; Swisher’s RBI double was the only RBI hit on the night, as the other three runs scored via ground out.
One last thing, though: the Indians lost to a very good and very underrated pitcher in Scherzer tonight. He pounded the strike zone, and induced a lot of weak fly balls early in the count, as Indians hitters did not want to fall behind and end up striking out (Scherzer struck out over 230 batters in 2012 and has 61 Ks in 47 IP this season). With a 95-mph heater and good command of his breaking and offspeed pitches, Scherzer could reasonably be the #1 starter on a lot of teams. We know Verlander is one of the best pitchers in the world, but that only helps to overshadow guys like Scherzer.
There’s no shame in losing a baseball game when your sixth starter squares off against one of the best pitchers in the league, but the Indians are frankly not good enough to give this Tigers team free base runners. If they’re going to succeed in this series, they need to clean up the mistakes and throw strikes; it really is that simple.
Tomorrow, Ubaldo Jimenez will square off against Justin Verlander, in a game that the Tigers have to be heavily favored to win. First pitch is at 7:08.
Follow me on Twitter (@palagoon) for more Indians-related news and musings.