Tigers unable to finish strong on long road trip

Tigers unable to finish strong on long road trip

CLEVELAND -- The Tigers left town Wednesday afternoon looking like a team that ready to set up at home for a while. The way they've played at Progressive Field this season made this city feel like a second home.

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After five wins in as many tries, the Tigers finally endured their first loss in Cleveland since September. The vibe out of the 8-2 loss to the Indians felt like a team carrying the fatigue of the two previous cities. After three cities in just over a week, three rain delays, a slew of bullpen use, and finally a 12:10 p.m. ET start to wrap it up, the Tigers looked like the wear and tear had caught up.

The bullpen looked particularly worn once spot starter Buck Farmer left the game in the sixth inning after 103 pitches. Five relievers covered the remaining eight outs, none of them lasting a full inning, and Farmer was optioned back to Triple-A Toledo after the game.

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At that point, manager Brad Ausmus said, he was thinking ahead.

"We were really trying to save guys' arms today when we got behind," Ausmus.

The end result was a 3-4 road trip that took a small dent out of their 19-17 record away from Detroit and a bigger piece out of their success against Cleveland.

"This road trip really didn't start off the way we wanted to," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We came back in New York and took that last game and took the first two here. We really would've liked to sweep the series, but [Carlos] Carrasco threw the ball well. We couldn't really get anything going. Two out of three on the road in this park is good, and we'll get ready for tomorrow."

Farmer looked fresh, but he had his own quick turnaround. He was preparing to warm up for a start in Durham, N.C., for Toledo on Tuesday when Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish called him into his office and told him he was scratched.

"He told me I was actually going to be throwing out of the bullpen, which didn't make any sense to me," Farmer said. "And he was like, 'I'm kidding with you. You're going up.' But yeah, it was an hour before I was supposed to start."

Farmer landed in Cleveland around 9:30 p.m. At that point, the Tigers and Indians weren't close to being done.

The early start Wednesday might have had something to do it, albeit a small part in Kinsler's eyes.

"It's a part of the schedule," Kinsler said. "Baseball players don't really like to talk about that, because every team in the league has to do it. There might've been a little fatigue, but at the same time, it's not something that should really stop us from playing well."

The Tigers fell to 35-14 against the Indians since the start of the 2013 season, including 20-6 at Progressive Field. They'll play their next 10 games at Comerica Park, starting with another matinee Thursday in a 1:08 p.m. ET game against the White Sox.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.