Despite the Tigers pummeling the Tribe in the first two games of this three-game series, I held out hope that the final game would be different. I liked our match-up of fifth-in-the-rotation starters: T.J. House who had a solid spring training versus Kyle Lobstein. Heck, even their names bode well for Cleveland. House is sturdy and protective. Lobstein has “lob” as the first part of his moniker. Besides, the Tigers had to be tired after scoring 17 runs on 32 hits during the first two games and compiling a team batting average of .364. And it could have been even worse. They left 42 runners on base. 42! A team that hot had to cool off. Didn’t they?
But just as in the other games of the series, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead on the way to today’s 8-5 win. Setting the shaky tone for his outing, House walked the lead-off hitter, Rajai Davis. After Ian Kinsler singled him over to second, Davis took off for third. Roberto Perez (starting in place of Yan Gomes, whom the Tribe announced would be out for 6 to 8 weeks with a “moderate MCL sprain” adding injury to insult) sailed his throw into left, allowing Davis to score and Kinsler to move to third. Which was all moot anyway when the next hitter, Miguel Cabrera, homered deep onto the home run porch in left.
Cabrera shifted into his all-too-familiar full beast mode during this series. Today, he went 4 for 4 with an intentional walk in the eighth. His day at the plate included 2 HR, a double, 4 RBI and 3R. Those home runs were Miggy’s 22nd and 23rd career homers at Progressive Field, putting him at the top of the list for most home runs in the Tribe’s current house by an opposing player. He went 11 for 14 for the series and finished hitting .520 for this young season. Which, by the way, isn’t even leading the Tigers.
Sure, this is only the second series of a very long season. And, sure, with a record of 2-4 and 156 games to go, there’s plenty of time for the Tribe to accomplish great things. So why did this series feel so demoralizing? Maybe because the Tigers have won the AL Central for the past four years in a row and we know they’re the standard we have to beat to take the division. Maybe because we felt the Tribe had improved a bit over last year, had a better overall pitching staff and we knew that the Tigers were without Max Scherzer this season and Justin Verlander this series. Maybe we loved that the Tigers were coming into our house for the first match-up of the season.
But today, our House required 28 pitches before recording the first out. Today, our House threw 63 pitches to get four outs and was pulled after 1.1 innings.
There were a few bright spots. Austin Adams and Shaun Marcum who were called up from Columbus to relieve an exhausted bullpen (the Tribe used 7 pitchers in each of the first two games of this series) did their jobs. Adams went 2.2 innings and Marcum went 5 innings. Each gave up only two hits and one run apiece — both runs coming on solo homers (Cabrera off of Adams and J.D. Martinez off of Marcum). Ryan Raburn went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI in the DH slot. Carlos Santana went 2 for 5 with an RBI.
Perhaps the brightest spot is that the Tribe has a day off before starting a two-game home stand against another division rival, the White Sox. The Indians, and their fans, can use a day to take deep breaths, relax and realize this was only one ugly series played on three beautiful days in Cleveland. Now, let’s go get a few sweeps of our own.