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'Bizarre': Miguel Cabrera's misstep, Indians' bombs send Tigers to 20th straight loss vs. rivals

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit – The Tigers on Sunday had one go-ahead run taken off the board by a questionable ruling by first base umpire Tim Timmons. They had another go-ahead run wiped out by an extremely questionable base-running decision by Miguel Cabrera.

Manager Ron Gardenhire and outfielder Cameron Maybin were ejected. Shortstop Niko Goodrum left the game with tightness in his right-upper back.

Miguel Cabrera is tagged by Indians catcher Sandy Leon while trying to score in the fifth inning.

When the smoke cleared at Comerica Park, though, it was the same as it ever was: The Cleveland Indians slugged five home runs and completed the three-game sweep with an 8-5 win. They have now beaten the Tigers 20 straight times.

"Just kind of bizarre, I guess," Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones said of the skid. "It's crazy. Props to them. We just need to do a better job when we play at Cleveland next week."

The loss was the Tigers' fifth straight and concluded a 1-6 home stand. 

"Anytime you get swept it's frustrating," said bench coach Lloyd McClendon, who ran the team after Gardenhire was ejected. "We've been playing pretty good baseball. This weekend wasn't indicative of how we've been playing. So, yeah, it's frustrating to get swept at home."

The game swung in the Indians favor in the fifth.

Cabrera, who had a two-run single in the third inning, singled home Harold Castro, tying the game at 4-4 with nobody out. He went to second on a walk to Jonathan Schoop and then, despite a clear stop sign being raised by third base coach Ramon Santiago, Cabrera tried to score on a single by Jeimer Candelario.

BOX SCORE: Indians 8, Tigers 5

Cabrera was thrown out by a strong relay throw from shortstop Francisco Lindor.

"I didn't talk to Miguel afterward, but I know Ramon had the stop sign up," McClendon said. "It looked like Miggy was trying to shut it down but he's such a big man, that's a difficult thing for him to do.

"It's one of those unfortunate things because we had something going there."

Cabrera gave Santiago the “my bad” sign afterward but it was a killer, especially after Maybin, pinch-hitting for Christin Stewart against lefty reliever Oliver Perez, hit into an inning-ended double-play.

Maybin, who stranded the tying runs on base in the ninth inning Saturday night, had words with home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn during the at-bat and he apparently had a few more on his way back to the dugout.

"He was ejected for arguing balls and strikes," said crew chief Laz Diaz through a pool reporter.

Maybin had to be restrained by first base coach Dave Clark.

The Indians took control of the game from that point.

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Side-arm right-hander John Schreiber entered in the sixth riding a streak of 8.1 scoreless innings. That ended with a one-out home run by catcher Sandy Leon. The Indians ended up scoring three times in the inning, the last on a double by Lindor off lefty Gregory Soto.

Lindor, who came into the game hitting .212, had two doubles, a home run and two RBIs.

Of the five homers hit by the Indians, two were by Franmil Reyes. His second one banged off the vines in center field, 453 feet from home plate. He hit a 462-footer out there on Friday.   

Asked if he'd ever seen a home run hit that far up on the vines, Jones said, "Absolutely not. Wow. He's really strong. We should not throw him a strike, ever."

But back to the first disappearing run -- it happened in the third inning and Cabrera and Candelario were involved in that one, too.

Trailing 3-0, the Tigers unleashed an offensive barrage at Indians starter Adam Plutko. Double by Grayson Greiner, RBI single by Goodrum, double by Harold Castro and a two-run single by Cabrera, snapping out of a 1-for-19 funk.

Just like that, tie ballgame.

Candelario followed with a two-out rocket into the right-field corner. Cabrera scored all the way from first and Candelario rolled into third base. But, hold up. First-base umpire Tim Timmons ruled that the ball got stuck under the padding – even though right-fielder Tyler Naquin retrieved the ball with no delay and never raised his arms to signal the ball was stuck.

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire disputes a call with umpire Laz Diaz, center, and Tim Timmons during the third inning.

"When the ball got down to the wall it lodged under the padding, between the dirt and the padding," Timmons said through a pool reporter. "Once the ball is lodged, the ball is lodged. The ball is dead at that point and everybody advances two bases."

The fielder, Timmons said, has no bearing on it. Which is what raised Gardenhire's ire.

"We were a little conflicted because we had the same play with (left fielder Christin Stewart) a few days ago," McClendon said. "His hands were not raised and they made no call. 

"Gardy was trying to make the point that if the guy plays the ball, it should be in play. They said we could object and ask for a replay but the fact is, the ball was lodged and the guy played the ball." 

More: Cruel irony: As Christin Stewart's glove and arm improve, his meal-ticket bat stays quiet

Gardenhire while arguing with both Timmons and Diaz repeatedly pointed out toward left field, making that point. All it earned him was his 85th career ejection, most among active managers.

"I don't think that was the most critical point in the game," McClendon said. "Obviously, no one thing causes you to win or lose. We had opportunities. We just didn't cash in and it cost us in the end."

The Indians brought in right-hander Phil Maton, who retired Stewart to end the inning – and instead of a 4-3 lead, the game remained tied.

Two innings later, the ever-productive Jose Ramirez untied it with a 434-foot home run to left off Tyler Alexander. Alexander through he had him struck out on the previous pitch, but Timmons at first base ruled it was a checked swing.

These are the things that happen in the midst of a 20-game losing streak.

The Tigers are 9-10 on the season.

Twitter @cmccosky