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Indians ambush Tigers, Zimmermann to take series opener, 7-4

Easily one of the biggest series across the sport this weekend, the Detroit Tigers welcomed in their division-leading rival Cleveland Indians to town.

Detroit just completed a four-game sweep at home against the Seattle Mariners, while the Tribe have won six in a row and hold a 3.0-game lead over second-place Kansas City, 4.0 games over the Tigers. Detroit was also looking to get a monkey off their back, trying to notch their first win of the season vs Cleveland, having gone winless in their first six tries.

Unfortunately, that losing streak against the Indians in 2016 extends to seven games as they fall 7-4 in the series opener.

1ST – 3RD INNINGS

Not much doing for either side in the first two innings. Cleveland recorded one hit off the bat of Mike Napoli, who was thrown out at second by Justin Upton trying to stretch it into a double. The Tigers had three base runners through the first two innings, all of them via the base on balls from Cleveland starter Danny Salazar.

The Indians struck first in the 3rd inning with a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Jason Kipnis. A key play in that top half of the 3rd happened before the Kipnis at-bat, when Carlos Santana hit a would-be double-play ground ball to Miguel Cabrera at first, but Cabrera was unable to field it cleanly and turn two, keeping the inning alive for Cleveland.

The Tigers got their first hit in the home half of the 3rd, a single off the bat of Cameron Maybin, but nothing came of it. – CLEVELAND LEADS 2-0

4TH – 6TH INNINGS

The Indians exploded for five runs on five hits in the top half of the 4th, all but one for extra-base-hits (three more triples, one double). Lonnie Chisenhall tripled in two runs, including Jose Ramirez who led off the rally with a three-bagger. Catcher Chris Gimenez singled in Chisenhall, followed by Santana doubling to score Gimenez, then Kipnis getting his second triple of the game that scored Santana.

The onslaught chased Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann after just 3.2 innings, yielding 7 ER on 9 hits. He was relieved by Mike Pelfrey.

Detroit showed some life in the home half of the 5th, scoring three of their own. They loaded the bases with no outs in singles from Steven Moya and James McCann and a walk to Andrew Romine. Moya scored on a base hit from Ian Kinsler to end the shutout bid for Salazar. Detroit got their second run on an RBI fielder’s choice from Maybin, scoring McCann. Romine came in on the play after a fielding error from the Indians’ first baseman Napoli.

Both teams had two on in the 6th inning but were unable to capitalize. A walk to Moya with two outs in the 6th signaled the end for Indians’ starter Salazar, who goes 5.2 IP allowing 3 ER on 5 hits and 5 base on balls. – CLEVELAND LEADS 7-3

7TH – 9TH INNINGS

Not much doing for either team in the latter third of the game. Indians went nine up and nine down during this stretch. The Tigers tacked on one in the 9th on Maybin’s third hit of the game, making it 7-4.

Cabrera came up with two on and one out, crushes a Cody Allen offering to deep center, only for former Tiger Rajai Davis to make a juggling, circus catch to rob Cabrera of extra bases and two RBI. Davis then threw the ball in to double up Maybin at first base to end the game. – FINAL: CLEVELAND 7, DETROIT 4

Game Notes:

  • Jordan Zimmermann now in his last four starts has allowed 19 ER in 23.1 IP, making his ERA climb from 2.58 to 3.81. He now posts a home ERA of 5.40 in eight starts at Comerica Park, as opposed to a 1.96 ERA in six road starts.
  • On a brighter note, Detroit got 4.1 scoreless innings from Mike Pelfrey in relief of Zimmermann, allowing just three hits and punching out two Indians batters. Pelfrey is slated to start on Tuesday against the Marlins. Meanwhile, Mark Lowe had a very effective outing, albeit one inning, throwing just seven pitches, six of which were for strikes.
  • The Tigers blew numerous opportunities to cash in runs tonight. They induced five base on balls from the Indians starter Danny Salazar, only one of which came around to score. They left eight man on base in the contest and hit into three double plays, including the game-ending catch by Rajai Davis in deep center.

Up Next: The Tigers will try again to notch their first win of the season against the Indians when the same two get together tomorrow for a 4:10 p.m. ET first pitch. Anibal Sanchez (4-7, 5.97 ERA) makes his return to the rotation, while the Indians give the ball to Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.26 ERA). The last time he pitched vs. the Tigers, he exited the game with a rather gruesome leg injury.

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