A season-best and current major league-best six-game winning streak was on the line for the Detroit Tigers on Monday the 4th of July as they continue their 11-game road swing against the Cleveland Indians, whom all of America knows by now that we can’t be them this year, 0-9.
Detroit already faced some adversity prior to the game when they had to place starter Jordan Zimmermann on the disabled list. Then the game was pushed back nearly two and a half hours due to rain.
The Tigers handled all types of adversity on Monday, including another one of their starters going down with an injury and in the end, the Tribe topped the tigers AGAIN, this time by a final score of 5-3.
INNINGS 1 – 3
Nothing doing for either team in the 1st inning. Indians starter Danny Salazar struck out the first two batters and induced a ground ball for a 1-2-3 inning. In the home half, Tigers lefty Daniel Norris answered with a 1-2-3 inning of his own, striking out one.
In the 2nd, Nick Castellanos recorded the first hit of the game with a one-out double but was left stranded. Cleveland however would respond with their first hit and the game’s first run.
After a lead-off double from Mike Napoli, designated hitter Carlos Santana drove him in with a base hit to center to make it 1-0 Tribe. Jose Ramirez then doubled to put runners at second and third with nobody out, but Norris got back-to-back strikeouts followed by a ground ball to end the threat.
In the 3rd, a lead-off single from James McCann was quickly erased in a ground ball double play off the bat of Jose Iglesias.
In the home half, Norris walked Rajai Davis to lead it off and had to exit the game with a right oblique strain. So in came 31-year-old Dustin Molleken to make his major league debut. He allowed a double to Jason Kipnis to put runners on second and third again with no outs. The next batter, Francisco Lindor flew out to left allowing Davis to score and make it 2-0 Indians.
Molleken did walk Santana later in the inning but again, Detroit limits the damage to just one run.
(THRU 3: CLE LEADS 2-0)
INNINGS 4 – 6
In the 4th, Detroit appeared to have something going offensively after singles from Cameron Maybin and Miguel Cabrera to lead off the frame but Salazar punched out the next three batters in order to end any threat by the Tigers.
Molleken came out for his second inning of work and put the Indians down in order 1-2-3. Detroit in the 5th finally got a run across the board when Steven Moya launched his fifth home run of the season to right center.
In the home half, a pair of singles from Davis and Kipnis signaled the end for Molleken and in came Alex Wilson to relieve him. It was déjà vu as Lindor flew out and allowed Davis to score from third (reached third on the Kipnis single), making it 3-1 Indians. Wilson loaded the bases up with walks to Napoli and Santana but escaped the jam giving up just one run after striking out Ramirez and Yan Gomes.
Detroit got a big jolt in the 6th though. After two loud outs, a sharp single by Victor Martinez was followed by a big fly from Castellanos to left field, a two-run shot to tie the game at 3 apiece.
A walk to Justin Upton and a base hit from Moya ended Salazar’s night. Jeff Manship came in to relieve Salazar and struck McCann out looking to end any further threat from the Tigers. (Final line on Salazar: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, BB, 6 K)
Wilson came back out to pitch the 6th inning and did the unimaginable – recording all three outs with just three pitches.
(THRU 6: TIED 3-3)
INNINGS 7 – 9
Manship for the Indians came right back out for the 7th and pitched a clean inning, a pair of a fly ball outs and a ground ball out.
After a resilient effort from Wilson, Bruce Rondon came on to pitch the 7th for Detroit. He struck out Kipnis to lead off the frame but after a walk to Lindor, Napoli tagged him for a deep home run to left to break the tie and make it 5-3 Indians.
No further damage from Rondon in the 7th. He gave up a two-out single to Ramirez, who was then thrown out by McCann trying to steal second base.
Indians reliever Bryan Shaw relieved Manship in the 8th for Cleveland. Cabrera opened up the inning with a base hit to center, followed by a base on balls to Victor Martinez. Unfortunately, Castellanos hit one hard right at Kipnis for the 4-6-3 double play. Upton then flew out to right and end any scoring opportunity for the Tigers.
Here’s something for fans who always try to find the smallest bit of good in everything. Struggling veteran Mark Lowe came in and needed just ten pitches for a 1-2-3 8th inning.
Not much doing for the Tigers in the 9th. They got a one-out walk from McCann off Indians closer Cody Allen but Iglesias grounded into his second double play of the game, one that needed video replay to be confirmed, sealing a 5-3 victory for the Indians.
ADDITIONAL GAME NOTES
- Nick Castellanos’ home run in the 6th inning was No. 15 for him on the season. He had 15 in all of 2015.
- Dustin Molleken made his major league debut in this game tonight. The 31-year-old and Regina, Saskatchewan-native spent part of his last 13 professional seasons in the minors. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 15th Round of the 2003 MLB Draft and was in their organization through the 2010 season. The Tigers are his fifth different organization.
UP NEXT: Game two of this three-game series will take place on Tuesday. Tigers will hand the ball to Anibal Sanchez, who has an ERA close to 9.00 in his three starts against the Indians this season. Cleveland meanwhile will send Carlos Carrasco to the bump, who pitched a complete-game four-hit shutout just two starts ago against Detroit.