Detroit — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire joked before Friday’s game that he wouldn’t know Saturday’s starting pitcher until he saw how the Tigers pitchers did Friday.
They didn’t provide much comfort.
Starter Ryan Carpenter didn’t record an out in the fourth inning and gave up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits. Things didn’t get much better the rest of the way, as the Cleveland Indians exploded for an eight-run fourth inning, en route to a 13-4 victory on Friday night at Comerica Park.
Carpenter’s lack of control and erratic pitching put the Tigers in a tough spot for the rest of the weekend series, as the Tigers needed to call up Gregory Soto for a spot start.
“We talked about it: Pace is one thing and attacking. (Carpenter) didn’t use his fastball on the inner half and everything was fading away,” Gardenhire said. “It didn’t look like it had any life to it. The suggestion was him going back (to Toledo). We’re going to need him here in 10 days."
The Tigers got back-to-back home runs from Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Dixon in the second inning, tying it, 2-2, after the Indians scored two in the top of the inning on an RBI double by Jake Bauers, scoring Jason Kipnis, and Roberto Perez scored on a fielder’s choice by Francisco Lindor.
It was the first hit in an onslaught by Bauers, who hit for the cycle, with a double in the second, a bunt single in the fourth and triple in the fourth and a home run in the eighth. It was the first cycle by an Indians player since former Tiger Rajai Davis did it on July 2, 2016.
The Tigers moved ahead in the third on a sacrifice fly by Christin Stewart that scored JaCoby Jones, who reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on a throwing error.
Carpenter (1-4) faced six batters in the fourth, but didn’t record an out, surpassing the 90-pitch mark. He allowed four walks and six of the eight runs were earned.
“Going back to watch the difference in videos from here to here tonight and you’ll see the difference in body language and everything; it just looked like he didn’t have it tonight,” Gardenhire said. “It’s one of those days and a tough one for him. We get behind really big and we have to scramble through the bullpen again.
“We need (Carpenter) to go down there and find himself; it’s really important with all the pitching injuries we have.”
Gardenhire said the urgency comes from the Tigers getting only four innings from Matthew Boyd on Thursday and three from Carpenter on Friday, which has put extra mileage on the bullpen.
“We kind of need a pitcher,” he said. “We’ve got to have pitching or those guys are going to die out there. We need Soto to come up here and give us a good start with two or three innings.”
The Indians took advantage, with Perez leading off with a single and Bauers following with the bunt single. Leonys Martin gave Cleveland the lead with a three-run home run. They added a single by Lindor and a bunt single by Oscar Mercado. Carlos Santana walked to load the bases, ending the night for Carpenter.
Buck Farmer entered and struck out Jordan Luplow but a fielding error scored Jose Ramirez and Lindor for a 7-3 margin. Perez had an RBI double and Bauers’ RBI triple made it a 10-3 lead.
Ramirez added an RBI triple in the fifth and Bauers’ two-run home run in the eighth made it 10 uninterrupted runs, for a 13-3 lead.
The Tigers added a run in the ninth, when Niko Goodrum had a leadoff triple and scored on a grounder by Harold Castro.
Pitching wasn’t the only concern. Catcher Grayson Greiner was placed on the injured list because of a lower-back strain. Gardenhire said the back issue came up before the game, as Greiner was swinging during warm-ups.
Bobby Wilson was selected to join the Tigers and Tyson Ross was moved to the 60-day injured list.