Cleveland — Another night of frustration and teeth-gnashing at Progressive Field for the Tigers.
Catcher Roberto Perez, the first batter reliever Alex Wilson faced in the bottom of the eighth inning, bashed a 2-0 pitch over the wall in right-center field, sending the Indians to a 2-1 win over the Tigers Tuesday.
“Our starter was phenomenal, our pitching was — we only gave up two runs,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But I thought the real big part of the game was they made some defensive plays that just stopped us. We hit some balls right on the barrel and the defense they played was phenomenal.
“We always say pitching and defense wins ballgames. That’s what happened tonight.”
It was the fourth time in 10 games this season the Tigers have lost a game where they allowed two runs or less. No team in the designated-hitter era has earned that distinction, according to MLB.com.
Wasted was a seven-inning gem by Tigers starter Matthew Boyd. Wasted was a three-double night by Jeimer Candelario. Wasted was the first big-league hit by rookie Victor Reyes.
BOX SCORE: Indians 2, Tigers 1
“It’s not really (frustrating),” Candelario said. “We were making good contact. All you can do is hit the ball on the barrel and whatever happens happens. We just have to keep coming after it and try to win a ballgame.”
Boyd allowed three hits. The only one that hurt was a two-out solo home run in the first inning by Jose Ramirez.
“Just one mistake early,” Boyd said. “I tried to drive the ball in on him and it ran back to the middle. I made it pretty easy for him to drive it.”
For six innings, that 1-0 lead felt insurmountable. After being shut out by Corey Kluber on Monday, the Tigers were working with a 23-inning scoreless streak.
Finally, though, they scratched a run across.
It started with Reyes’ first big-league hit, a single to right field. He stole second and went to third on an errant throw by Perez.
After Dixon Machado and pinch-hitter JaCoby Jones struck out, Candelario slapped a double inside the bag at third.
“I saw this guy (reliever Dan Otero) throw a lot of two-seamers,” Candelario said. “So, I don’t want to pull this guy. I tell myself to stay middle or the other way. Thank God he threw that two-seamer away and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
It looked like the Tigers were going to take the lead. Next up, Miguel Cabrera, who had an RBI single denied by a diving play by shortstop Francisco Lindor in the first inning, hit a ball up the middle.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis ranged to the shortstop side of the bag, made a sliding stop and threw Cabrera out.
Kipnis made another diving play to take a hit from Nick Castellanos to start the eighth and Lindor followed with his second hit-stealing play on Victor Martinez.
That was as close as the Tigers came to scoring again, as Andrew Miller and Cody Allen locked the doors in the eighth and ninth — six straight outs.
That hit by Candelario not only broke the scoreless innings streak, it snapped an 0-for-10 drought with runners in scoring position.
“We left eight runners on base,” Gardenhire said. “We have to do a better job in those situations.”
The Tigers had Indians starter Josh Tomlin on the ropes in the first three innings and couldn’t knock him out. They went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in those three innings.
In the first, doubled with one out but was stranded at second when Cabrera and Victor Martinez both grounded out.
Second inning, Niko Goodrum, starting at shortstop in place of Jose Iglesias, singled and daringly tagged on a medium-depth fly out to center by James McCann. He challenged the arm of Rajai Davis.
The ball beat him to the base, but Goodrum eluded the tag of Jason Kipnis with a swim move. He was initially called out, but the call was overturned.
He was stranded when Reyes was called out on strikes and Machado grounded out.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the third, but after a lengthy battle, Goodrum bounced back to the mound to end the inning.
Candelario hit his second double of the game, a shot down the right-field line, with one out in the fifth. But Cabrera grounded out and Nick Castellanos struck out.
“You’ve got to stay even all the time,” Candelario said. “You always come to the park and expect to win. That’s what we will do tomorrow.”
The Tigers have now lost nine straight to the Indians, scoring three runs or less in all of those games.