Detroit — It was a good home stand for the Tigers, even if it ended by getting bullied by the Indians and right-hander Trevor Bauer, 6-0, on Wednesday.
Injured and under-manned, with an over-taxed bullpen, the Tigers took two out of three from a good Mariners team and two of three from the Central Division-leading Indians.
“I think this team feels really good about itself,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’re playing really good teams, so we have to continue getting after it and doing what we’ve been doing — competing as hard as we can.
“If we could get some healthy guys here, that would be really nice.”
Tigers started the game without the services of first baseman Miguel Cabrera (hamstring) and center fielder Leonys Martin (hamstring), third baseman Jeimer Candelario (wrist) and designated hitter Victor Martinez (rest). Also, starting catcher James McCann was given the day off.
Then, in the second inning, they lost their spark plug. JaCoby Jones bruised his left hip lunging and stamping at first base trying to beat out an infield ground ball in the first inning.
“We think he’ll be fine,” Gardenhire said. “It’s a day to day thing and we’ll see what he looks like when we get out there (to Seattle). If he’s sore and they tell us it’s going to be three, four, five days – I mean, I don’t think we could go with a two-man bench.
“If it’s only going to be a couple of days, we might be able to get through it. But it’s a little hairy.”
Jones had an MRI after the game and the results were not revealed. There was no immediate transaction made after the game, though it is expected that left-handed Ryan Carpenter – who made a spot start and took the loss Wednesday — will be sent back to Toledo.
“We have to wait and see,” Gardenhire said. “There is a possibility of us taking somebody (from Toledo), but we’re working that out.”
Jones hit a ball down the third base line that was stopped on a dive by Indians third baseman Erik Gonzalez. The play at first base was close and, instead of running through the base and down the line, Jones lunged and jammed his leg hard in front of the base.
“He could have blown his knee out or his ankle — a number of things could have gone wrong when you hit the bag sideways like that,” Gardenhire said. “We knew he did something.”
Jones immediately went back to the clubhouse with head athletic trainer Doug Teter to have it tended to. He came back and played center field in the top of the second, but left the game after the inning.
“It’s rough that a good home stand ended like this,” Gardenhire said. “But that guy really pitched well today. He shut us down completely.”
That guy, Bauer, was dominant. He gave up four hits and struck out 10 in eight innings.
“We’d been swinging the bats really well in this series, but today was a rough one,” said first baseman John Hicks, who struck out twice. “For me, it was pretty much he threw one at my face and then threw a slider away. That’s what he did on the strikeouts — brush me back and then throw a slider away.
“As a hitter with two strikes, you have one come at your face, you can’t really look down and away after that. Tip your cap.”
Bauer, who beat the Tigers and limited them to two runs back on April 12, retired the first 12 batters before Niko Goodrum led off the fifth with a single.
In the sixth, Grayson Greiner doubled and Jose Iglesias legged out an infield single. That was the Tigers’ lone threat. Bauer responded by striking out Victor Reyes and Pete Kozma to end the inning.
“We’ve seen him pitch over the years,” Gardenhire said. “He’s got all the pitches and he had them working today. The slow curve ball, the hard slider, the fastball was jumping in the mid-90s. He made it tough on us.
“But we’ve seen him do that before.”
Carpenter was summoned from Triple-A Toledo for the spot start as the Tigers wait for Jordan Zimmermann (shoulder) to come off the disabled list. The Indians got after him pretty good – especially their left-handed hitters.
Lefties accounted for three of the six runs and three of the seven hits Carpenter allowed in his five innings.
Michael Brantley singled and scored in the first inning and hit his sixth home run of the year in the fifth. Jason Kipnis ripped an RBI double and scored in the fourth.
The Indians were done scoring after the fifth. Right-hander Artie Lewicki, also brought up from Toledo on Tuesday, pitched four scoreless innings — a huge boost for an overworked bullpen. Lewicki, whose fastball was averaging between 93-94 mph, allowed three hits and struck out four.
“He did a super job,” Gardenhire said. “He protected us and saved us. He kept the game right there if we ever could have done anything against their pitcher. But we didn’t have to go to the bullpen. We protected our bullpen and that was a good thing.”