Simon, V-Mart team to tackle Tribe, end Tigers' skid
By Jordan Bastian and Jason Beck
DETROIT -- Alfredo Simon became the first Tigers pitcher to win his first four starts in a season since Frank Tanana in 1988, delivering 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball to help the Tigers end a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Indians on Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park.
On a day when Miguel Cabrera walked four times in a game for the first time in his career, Detroit didn't need much offensive output to put Simon ahead for good. With a pair of run-scoring singles, Victor Martinez drove in three, one more run than the entire Tigers lineup produced over the previous two games combined. Two of those runs were scored by Rajai Davis, who added an insurance tally in the fourth when he hit a two-out single, stole second base and scored on Ian Kinsler's double.
"It's always nice to just win a game the way you're supposed to win a game with no problems, really," Kinsler said. "We were able to work out of situations that we put ourselves in, and offensively, constantly threatening with consistent offense. It's nice to get a win this way."
Considering the Indians had to fill innings when Trevor Bauer fell ill shortly before game time, it could've been worse. Considering Simon avoided the string of hits that knocked him out early in Cleveland two weeks ago, the run support was enough. Jason Kipnis manufactured the Indians' lone run in the third inning with an infield single, stolen base and speedy turn around third base on Michael Brantley's ensuing single, the second of four hits for Brantley on the day.
"He's kind of a tall kid and he throws the ball downhill," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Simon. "He mixes in that breaking ball, different speeds on his breaking ball, and he gave us a tough time. He can throw it for a strike, he can throw it for a strike-to-ball, down out of the zone. He did a really good job of that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Simon says win: Simon had a gem going in Cleveland two weeks ago before five consecutive hits chased him in the sixth inning. This time, the string never came. Though he allowed three leadoff hits, including Brantley's double in the sixth, he retired the Indians in order each time afterward. He also held Brandon Moss hitless after his two-homer, seven-RBI game Friday night. More >
On the House: Making an emergency start in place of Bauer (illness), House only lasted three innings and yielded three runs on four hits for the Indians. The lefty immediately ran into trouble in the first inning after giving up a single to Davis and walking Kinsler and Cabrera to load the bases. Martinez made House pay with a two-run single in the first and later added an RBI single off the left-hander in the third. More >
"Obviously, this was a a last-minute thing," House said. "I wish I could've done a little bit better and gone a little longer and threw a little less pitches, and kind of help everybody out with the whole situation we're in. I can't be too disappointed. Today, I came in and didn't think I was going to be out there at all."
Gorzelanny gets his guy:Tom Gorzelanny replaced Simon with two outs in the seventh inning to strike out Michael Bourn, but his greater threat came an inning later after Brantley doubled and Carlos Santana singled, bringing Moss to the plate as his potential tying run. Moss hit the first pitch and grounded it to second, starting an inning-ending double play that Cabrera stretched out to finish.
"I think sometimes Moss, you can catch him guessing," catcher Alex Avila said. "In that situation, normally you think left-on-left, first-pitch breaking ball, but I thought maybe we could get him with the sinker, get a ground-ball double play. Couldn't write it up any better than that."
Heating up: Cleveland's lone run against Simon came off the bat of the All-Star Brantley, who singled to right in the third inning to plate Kipnis. Brantley finished with four hits, including a pair of doubles, on the afternoon. Since returning to the lineup following a bout with a back issue, Brantley has hit .419 (13-for-31) in eight games. More >
"It feels good," Brantley said. "You always want to contribute and do the best that you can for your team each and every day. I'll continue to work hard and keep pushing the guys like they are pushing me and we're going to be fine."
"I know it is going to come together. It is early. We got beat, but it was a good game on both sides." Brantley, on Cleveland's slow start at the plate this season
"He just doesn't look like he breaks a sweat out there. I saw him get mad at himself on one pitch today, and that's the first emotion I've seen him show since he got to Spring Training." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, on Simon
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cleveland opted to walk Cabrera four times (three intentional) on Saturday. It marked the first time Cabrera received three intentional walks since Aug. 15, 2010. Cabrera also became the first Tigers player since at least 1955 to have at least four walks with at least three intentional free passes in a single game, according to baseball-reference.com. More >
Bauer (2-0, 0.95 ERA) was originally scheduled to start Saturday for the Indians, but the pitcher was scratched shortly before the game due to illness. Bauer went through his warmup routine, but continued to feel sick. Bauer is now tentatively scheduled to start on Tuesday against the Royals.
"He ate something last night and thought it didn't go down well," Francona said. "He got here early and tried to get a bunch of fluids and stuff in him. He went out to warm up because he thought he could do it. We told him, 'Hey man, not pitching is probably better than going one and realizing you can't.' So we had TJ on kind of alert."
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco is slated to take the mound for the Indians, following a solid five-inning return to the rotation on Tuesday against the White Sox. In his first start since being hit in the jaw by a line drive, Carrasco struck out eight, allowed one run and logged 60 pitches.
Tigers:Kyle Lobstein makes his third start in place of injured Justin Verlander, facing the lefty-heavy Indians lineup for the second time. So far, he has he has survived early trouble twice to give Detroit a chance to win.