CLEVELAND, Ohio — Considering everything the Indians have been through in the last seven days, Cleveland’s players needed a weekend where they simply had fun while playing good baseball. Fortunately their opponent, the Detroit Tigers, provided just what the doctor ordered.
Cleveland hitters collected eight extra-base hits Sunday, including a season-high five home runs in an 8-5 victory against Detroit at Comerica Park.
Franmil Reyes and Jose Ramirez led the charge on offense, and Francisco Lindor showed signs of coming around at the plate against a Detroit pitching staff that looked shellshocked by the end of the series. Reyes homered twice, including a 435-foot blast to center field, his fifth of the season in the seventh inning.
Reyes, who also homered against Tigers starter Michael Fulmer in the second inning, left the game in the ninth after he was hit on the left hand by a 94 mph fastball from Tigers reliever Joe Jiminez.
Cleveland has won 20 consecutive games against the Tigers, extending its franchise record winning streak against a single opponent. That’s the second-longest streak in Major League Baseball against one opponent in the divisional era (since 1969) behind Baltimore’s 23-game stretch against Kansas City (1969-70).
Manager Terry Francona on Friday said he was looking forward to seeing how the club responded to adversity after a team meeting that resulted in starting pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac being optioned to the alternate training site in Eastlake. By Sunday afternoon, the Indians appeared to have truly moved on.
Ramirez homered in the fifth and drove in a run with a ground out in the sixth. But the Tigers bounced back to tie the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth on a leadoff single by Harold Castro who moved to second on a wild pitch by Indians right Dominic Leone and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s RBI single up the middle.
Sandy Leon answered with his first home run in an Indians uniform, a solo shot off John Schreiber. Delino DeShields jr. reached base on a bunt single and later scored on a Ramirez’s RBI ground out. Ramirez leads the Indians and is tied for seventh in the American League with 18 RBI.
Lindor, who entered the game with a .353 slugging percentage and just one hit in his previous 10 at-bats, collected a pair of doubles and a two-run home run against Fulmer in the third. Lindor drove in a team-high three runs, giving him 13 on the season.
Detroit hitters took an aggressive approach against Indians starting pitcher Adam Plutko in the third inning. Swinging early in the count, the Tigers piled up five hits off Plutko, including a leadoff double by Grayson Greiner and an RBI single by Niko Goodrum. Cabrera’s two-run single tied the score at 3-3 with one out in the inning.
Things could have been worse for Plutko after Jeimer Candelario drove a ball to right field that appeared to lodge under a pad in the outfield wall. First base umpire Tim Timmons signaled for a ground-rule double, sending Cabrera back to third base after he appeared to score what would have been the go-ahead run all the way from first.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire argued Timmons’ ruling and was ejected. It was Gardenhire’s first ejection this season after getting tossed eight times last year. He ranks sixth all-time among managers with 84 early exits.
Francona then went to his bullpen and summoned Phil Maton who retired Christin Stewart on a line out to left field to escape further damage.
Plutko, making his first road start, took a no-decision after entering the game 4-0 lifetime against the Tigers. Plutko beat Detroit twice last season, but lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday, allowing three earned runs on six hits with a strikeout.
Maton struck out a pair in 1 1/3 scoreless innings while Oliver Perez, Cam Hill and James Karinchak shut down Tigers hitters with scoreless outings of their own. Nick Wittgren allowed the first two hitters he faced in the ninth to reach base, including an RBI single by Victor Reyes, but got Jonathan Schoop to ground into a double-play that ended the game.
Next: The Indians are off Monday before opening a three-game series in Pittsburgh. Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Civale and Shane Bieber will pitch for Cleveland. The Pirates have not announced their starters for the series. All games will begin at 7:05 p.m. and air on SportsTime Ohio, WTAM 1100 AM and WMMS 100.7 FM.
New Indians face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indians-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.
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