'Awful night': Tigers fall to 0-7 against Indians
Detroit – The No. 2 starter throws a rare clunker. A ball is lost in the lights for one of four triples in two innings. A lot hard hit balls by the home team get caught and for the visitors, a lot of ground balls find holes.
Then in the ninth inning, a long line drive with two runners certain to score and the tying run rounding second is run down, juggled and finally caught and turned into a game-ending double play.
This is how it’s going for the Tigers against the Indians this year. Seven straight losses now after dropping the opener of a three-game set Friday, 7-4.
“It didn’t go our way tonight,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “But we’ve got to make our own luck. We have another game tomorrow.”
BOX SCORE: Indians 7, Tigers 4
The Indians hit starter Jordan Zimmermann with a barrage of triples and knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning.
“I wasn’t very good tonight,” he said. “My location was terrible on every pitch. It’s tough to pitch when you can’t locate. I will look at the film tomorrow and see if I can figure something out. But this loss is on me.
“I have to do a better job and I will do a better job. Just have to figure out what went wrong tonight."
He was coming off one of his best starts of the season at Kansas City, too. But he was tagged for seven runs and nine hits. Seven of the nine hits came with two strikes on the batter, and three of the seven runs came after two were out.
“It was everything,” he said. “I threw a couple of sliders to (Jason) Kipnis that didn’t do anything, just spun, and normally they’d be at his back foot and he’d swing over the top. My fastball, Mac (catcher James McCann) would set up inside and I’d throw it a foot outside. Just no clue what was going on.”
Kipnis tripled home two runs in the third, and he tripled in another in a five-run fourth inning. Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall also tripled in the fourth. Chisenhall’s triple came on a sinking liner that right fielder Steven Moya lost in the lights.
“Just an all-around awful night,” Zimmermann said.
With the bullpen spent, having worked 18.2 innings in the four-game sweep of the Mariners, the last thing the Tigers needed was a short outing from their No. 2 starter.
Ausmus was left with little choice but to bring Mike Pelfrey in out of the bullpen. Pelfrey was scheduled to start Tuesday against the Marlins. After throwing 48 pitches Friday, that start is probably going to be pushed back.
“We have a lot of flexibility because of the extra starters we have,” Ausmus said of the team’s current six-man rotation. “We can manipulate it pretty easily.”
The Tigers are trying to limit the workload on rookie Michael Fulmer, and Ausmus said that won’t change. He’s still going to be skipped next time through the rotation. Daniel Norris could move up and start Tuesday with Anibal Sanchez, who starts Saturday, could go Wednesday.
And don’t rule out Pelfrey for Tuesday, either.
“As long as I feel fine tomorrow, I’ll be good for Tuesday,” he said. “I’m not anticipating anything crazy tomorrow so I should be good to go.”
Pelfrey did his job, Friday. He held the Indians in check, allowing just three singles in 4.1 innings.
“He was outstanding,” Ausmus said. “He picked us up, picked the bullpen up. He was a huge part of the game for us.”
His sinker was as sharp and biting as it’s been all season.
“I would have preferred not to have to do it (work in relief) because it meant something went wrong,” Pelfrey said. “But I was glad I was able to actually help the bullpen for once and give some innings. We’ve asked a lot of them lately. So that part was good.”
The Tigers, though, couldn’t take full advantage of a subpar outing by right-hander Danny Salazar.
He walked the first batters he faced in the first, but got Miguel Cabrera to kill the rally with a 5-3 double play.
Salazar wound up walking five and lasting 5.2 innings. But until the fifth inning, the Tigers managed one single.
“It’s hard to say we let him off the hook because we were hitting the ball hard,” Ausmus said. “We just weren’t getting hits. You can’t control where the ball goes. Your job is to barrel it up and hit it hard…The first half of the game, we barreled a lot of balls up and they ended up in gloves instead of on the grass or in a gap.”
The Tigers scored three times in the fifth on an RBI single by Ian Kinsler and a Cameron Maybin force out that plated two runs after shortstop Francisco Lindor threw wildly to first trying to get a double play.
They made one last push in the bottom of the ninth off closer Cody Allen. With a run in and runners on first and second, Cabrera was up representing the tying run. He hit a shot into the gap in right center.
Former Tiger Rajai Davis ran it down near the wall, juggled it and then held on before hitting the wall. The ball came out as he went to throw it, which is why the runners kept circling the bases. Video replay confirmed the catch.
Davis threw the ball in and the Indians completed the easy game-ending double play -- the third double play Cabrera hit into.
“The first thing I saw was Miggy at second and I was kind of wondering why we were throwing home,” Davis said. “I knew if I don’t get to that ball they all score, tie ballgame. And in any other park, tie ballgame.”
“That’s the way it goes sometimes,” Pelfrey said. “We still have two more games with them here. We’re 0-7. I think their luck is going to change and we can still win a series.”