Tigers drop 10th straight to Indians, lose Norris to injury

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Bruce Rondon waits for the Indians' Mike Napoli to run the bases after Napoli hit a two-run home run in the seventh.

Cleveland — It didn’t take long for things to go crooked for the Tigers Monday. And the way things have gone for them against the Indians this year, it almost seemed par for the course.

Left-hander Daniel Norris, making his third start of the season, strained his right oblique and left the game after walking the leadoff batter in the third inning. Before the game the Tigers announced that Jordan Zimmermann, scheduled to start here Tuesday, was placed on the disabled list with a neck strain.

Just like that, two-fifths of the starting rotation was wiped out until after the All-Star break.

BOX SCORE: Indians 5, Tigers 3

Their six-game win streak was obliterated, too. After a rain delay of two hours and 21 minutes, Mike Napoli’s 430-foot home run off Bruce Rondon at 12:10 a.m. Tuesday morning, sent the Indians to a 5-3 win – their 10th straight over the Tigers this season.

Given the early hardship, though, the Tigers fought valiantly in this one unlike most of the nine other losses against the Indians.

“The guys battled,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We squared a lot of balls up and hit a lot of balls hard. They made nice plays and we hit into some bad luck. But the guys were into the game, right down to the last out.”

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Norris sustained the injury on the final batter of the second inning. He had already given up a run, and with runners on second and third and nobody out, he struck out Yan Gomes and Juan Uribe. Then Abraham Almonte hit a ground ball back up the middle that Norris made a lunge for.

It ended up being a ground out to short, but Norris was in pain. He went immediately to the clubhouse with trainer Kevin Rand.

He came out for the third inning, but it was clear he wasn’t right.

“I was pretty bummed,” Norris said. “I was excited to pitch this game.”

The Tigers have scheduled an MRI for Tuesday to determine the severity of the strain. Norris suffered the same injury last August and missed four weeks.

“It’s close to the same spot, but it’s not as severe as last year, I don’t think,” Norris said. “I felt I could have maybe continued on, but from my delivery, it was obvious it was bothering me. I’m thinking positive.”

Anibal Sanchez will start in place of Zimmermann on Tuesday. In all likelihood, Matt Boyd will eventually be recalled from Toledo to start in place of Norris. Buck Farmer was recalled after the game to work out of the bullpen.

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Either Norris will be placed on the DL Tuesday, or another pitcher will be sent back to Toledo.

The Tigers got some gritty work from the bullpen Monday to keep the game close.

Rookie Dustin Molleken, just called up from Toledo and making his major league debut after 13 years in the minors, gave up a run in two innings, but he stranded a pair of runners in the third and pitched a quick 1-2-3 fourth before giving up a pair of singles to start the fifth.

“It was an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “That walk from the bullpen down through the tunnel and onto the field, it was like, ‘Wow, I’m here finally. It was the best feeling in the world.”

Alex Wilson followed and worked out of that jam, striking out Jose Ramirez and Gomes with the bases loaded. Wilson followed that with a three-pitch sixth inning.

Seven Indians runners were left on the bases through five innings, giving the Tigers a chance to catch up. Which they did.

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Down 3-1 in the sixth inning against Indians right-hander Danny Salazar, Victor Martinez slashed a two-out single and then Nick Castellanos hit a hanging off-speed pitch into the seats in left field to tie the game.

It was his 15th home run, tying his career high.

The Tigers first run came via the long ball, as well. A 400-foot blast to right-center field by Steven Moya in the fifth inning. He hit two long fouls to left field, both on 95 mph fastballs. Salazar then tried to get him with an 88 mph off-speed pitch. Moya wasn’t fooled for an instant. He stayed back and annihilated it – his fifth home run.

But with one out in the seventh, Rondon walked Francisco Lindor before Napoli turned his 97 mph fastball around quick.

The Tigers rallied in the eighth off Bryan Shaw. Miguel Cabrera singled and Victor Martinez walked. Castellanos then hit a ball sharply up the middle that second baseman Jason Kipnis deftly turned into a double play.

“Another foot or half-foot up the middle and we have the bases loaded, or Miggy scores and we have me and Victor on with nobody out,” Castellanos said. “That could have been a turning point.”

Instead, it was another snake bite for the Tigers.

“It’s baseball,” Castellanos said. “We could come out and beat the Indians by 10 runs tomorrow. It can happen. Or, we can beat the Indians the rest of the season. Or, we can beat every other team and never beat the Indians, and then we see them in the playoffs and beat them.

“Just because they got us the first 10 games – if anything you can be positive about it and say they are getting all their wins out of the way early in the year. That’s just how I think about it.”

He was asked if he’d ever been beaten 10 times in a row by any team or any individual?

“Yeah,” he said. “My brother beats me in Super Smash Brothers every single time. But in baseball? I don’t think I’ve ever lost to a team 10 times in a row.”

It’s freakish, to be sure.

Twitter @cmccosky