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.


  • Steve Alex says:

    I wouldn’t read too much into this loss. Scherzer is no slouch and four runs is a decent output. The only reason it was lopsided was because Kluber threw batting practice cutters down the middle of the plate all night. If Kluber had pitched like he did last time, painting the corners with 95 MPH fastballs and throwing his breaking ball for strikes, we would be lauding this as a good 4-2 win and a statement game.

  • DP Roberts says:

    For some reason, I feel just the opposite – I’d rather lose to a good team (like the Tigers) than anyone else. As the saying goes, you beat up on the bad teams, and split the games against the good teams. I’d rather see the Indians beat the Astros and lose to the Tigers than vice versa.

    In terms of the central, the White Sox and Tigers have spent 50-100% more than the Indians, while the Twins & Royals are spending roughly the same amount as the Indians. In general, spending more gets you better players (if you’re spending wisely). So, I always feel like the Indians are fighting above their weight class when they play teams like the Tigers & White Sox.

  • Sean Porter says:

    Here’s my thinking on the Indians vs. Tigers – and I know its not going to be popular with Indians fans…

    I feel that if the Tigers produce a “good to great” season, the Indians and Royals (I’m already writing off the Twins and Sox as legit contenders in the Central) are not going to catch them. The way I see it, the only way the Tribe or Royals win the Central is if they play out of their minds, and the Tigers fall flat on their faces. Detroit is built to win 95+ wins, I can’t see them performing well in ’13 and yet falling short because Cleveland or Kansas City win 96 or more games.

    What I’m hoping for, realistically, is for the Indians to nail down one of the wild card spots.

  • Adam Hintz says:

    Sean nailed the point on the head. There’s very little chance anyone catches Detroit at the top of this division… their starting rotation might be the best in baseball (Sanchez, Scherzer, Verlander is as potent a 1-2-3 as you will find), and their offense is obviously scary with Hunter, Cabrera, Fielder, and Martinez (who hasn’t even hit yet). Barring something catastrophic, the Tigers are going to win 95+ games and the division.

    The Wild Card is going to come down to Boston/Baltimore (whoever doesn’t win AL East), Yankees, Rays (maybe), Royals, and Indians (I’m already discounting the As and Angels). There’s a realistic shot at a wild card berth here, depending on how the East shakes out. I probably should do a column just on the state of the wild card race… but let’s see how the rest of this weekend looks before we go that far.

  • Sean Porter says:

    All that being said – you gotta figure Cabrera relapses into drinking again and Fielder’s weight starts causing his premature decline eventually, right?

    I’m not making fun of either – but how is it Detroit can sign two guys who conceivably implode at any time and yet they just keep rolling along? If the Indians had taken on those two contracts Cabrera would have ended up at Betty Ford and Fielder’s back/knees would have disintegrated moments after both signed their huge contracts.

  • Adam Hintz says:

    Ah, and now we are beginning to tap into the essence of Cleveland’s collective Detroit hate. They spend money like it’s going out of style… AND it doesn’t blow up in their face? The audacity!

  • Sean Porter says:

    Haha! You have to admit, neither Cabrera or Fielder would strike the average baseball fan as players you’d expect to have long and healthy careers. They both seem like candidates to shine very brightly for a bit, then implode because of health, off-the-field problems, etc…

    Verlander will probably pitch until he’s 40 and make 30+ starts every season until then, too… Ugh.

  • Sean Porter says:

    And speaking of spending money like it’s going out of style, I’m finding much pleasure in the Los Angeles teams duel-to-the-death on who will be dubbed the biggest flop in 2013.

  • Adam Hintz says:

    Cabrera is one of the best pure hitters ever, and it just so happens he hits for power, too. (ESPN did an article on Miggy recently… he’s not as good as Pujols in his prime, but the fact that you can have that conversation says something)

    Fielder, as much as I like to bag on the guy for being rotund, he is a vegan, so he does take care of himself. He’s just a big boy.

    Yeah, I’m a bit jealous. Verlander/Miggy/Prince are all in the midst of Hall of Fame careers, I think (Prince being the only “ehhh maybe” in that group).

  • Steve Alex says:

    The Tigers are probably the best team in the American League (or no worse than 2nd to the Rangers), so competing for a wild card berth makes sense for the Indians. In a way, that takes some of the pressure off when facing the Tigers because they won’t feel like every head-to-head matchup is a life or death game with their season hanging in the balance. A 90-92 win season would put the Indians right there for a wild card playoff spot. Most of us would take that.

    • Sean Porter says:

      I know I wouldn’t.

      A 90-92 win team might also bump the attendance to about 16,000 a game too – he wrote, words saturated in sarcasm.