Max Scherzer pitched eight innings of one-run baseball and the Tigers broke open the game in the sixth with two home runs as the Tigers defeated the Indians 5-1 on a warm Tuesday evening in Cleveland.
Scherzer pitched eight innings while allowing only three baserunners, two singles in the first inning by Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera and a walk by Carlos Santana. After that walk, Scherzer went on to set down 22 straight Indians on his way to his sixth win of the season. Scherzer, who came into the game with an 11.3 K/9 rate, did not record his first strikeout until the beginning of the fifth. However, he went on from there to strikeout seven Indians in his final four innings of work. Despite this impressive performance, Scherzer has still never pitched a complete game in his 141 career starts (though he has pitched 12 eight-inning starts).
This is Scherzer’s (6-0, 3.61 ERA) second start of the season against the Indians. In the first on May 10, Scherzer pitched eight innings but allowed four earned runs while striking out seven as the Tigers defeated the Indians 10-4.
The Indians offense scored their only run on a Michael Brantley sacrifice fly in the first inning, which scored Michael Bourn. From there on, the bats were silent and there was quite a breeze at Progressive Field. The bats were quite cold at a game that had a game-start temperature of 86º.
The game was relatively close until the sixth inning, when Indians starter Corey Kluber (3-3) imploded. Through the first five innings, Kluber has not allowed a run and only had allowed three hits (all to former Indians, two to Victor Martinez and one to Jhonny Peralta). Andy Dirks started the sixth with a solo home run to right field. After a Torii Hunter double, AL MVP Miguel Cabrera operated his weapon and sent a moonshot to center field to make it a 3-1 game. Cabrera is currently batting .384 with 12 HR and 49 RBI, and is batting .333 with 2 HR and 5 RBI in four games against the Indians this season.
Kluber finished with the following line: 6.1 IP/8 H/3 R/3 ER/0 BB/8 SO/2 HR/111 pitches. It was a solid start from Kluber, especially because of the brilliant command he displayed (no walks and eight strikeouts). Kluber has shown his ability to be a strikeout pitcher, currently boasting a 96 mph fastball and an 8.57 K/9. He pitched as well as you would want out of a replacement arm.
Cody Allen pitched 1.2 innings in the 7th and 8th innings and was quite impressive, totaling four strikeouts with what looks like an improved breaking ball to pair with his rocket of the fastball. He seems to be developed into one of Francona’s favorite arms in the Tribe pen.
However, the Tigers tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth with questionable decision-making from manager Terry Francona. With the game relatively close (3-1) heading to the ninth, Francona handed the ball to AAA stud David Huff, who allowed three baserunners and ceded one run. From there, Francona called in mop-up man Matt Albers, who gave up an inherited run on a Prince Fielder single to put the game out of reach.
The Indians had a chance in the ninth with runners on second and first and only one out against closer Jose Valverde, but Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana both flied out to finish the ball game. Michael Brantley has now batted in every spot in the lineup this season except ninth, having batted cleanup tonight with Nick Swisher out on paternity leave.
The Indians are still winners of 18 of their last 23, and are now 1.5 games ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central. Ubaldo Jimenez (3-2, 5.31 ERA) will toe the hill tomorrow night at 7:05 pm against Tigers ace Justin Verlander (4-4, 3.17 ERA).