Tribe wins bullpen battle with Tigers after injuries
By Jason Beck and Jordan Bastian
DETROIT -- The Indians completed a three-game series sweep in Detroit for the first time since 2008, using a pair of RBI hits each from Jose Ramirez and Marlon Byrd to win what ended up a battle of the bullpens for a 6-3 victory over the Tigers Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Both starting pitchers, Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco and Detroit's Shane Greene (1-2), were out by the middle of the fourth due to injuries. While converted starter Trevor Bauer tossed 3 1/3 innings, the Indians jumped former Tigers starting prospect Drew VerHagen with three-run rallies in the fourth and fifth. Ramirez and Byrd, batting fifth and sixth in the Cleveland order, produced RBIs in each inning.
"It's always big to get out to a good start against the division," Bauer (1-0) said. "Any time you can get a sweep is big, especially in the division. It enforces the mindset of, 'Yeah, it's the Tigers, but we're going to beat them.'"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Carrasco goes down: With one out in the third inning, Andrew Romine chopped a pitch to first baseman Carlos Santana, while Carrasco hustled to cover the base. Carrasco caught the ball and stepped on the bag for the out, but then fell to the dirt in clear pain. The right-hander left the game with a left hamstring injury and headed back to Cleveland, where he will undergo an MRI exam to determine the extent of the injury. Carrasco will be placed on the disabled list.
"The hope is that it's not terrible," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think when you see a guy go down like that, it's not just something that grabbed at him. We'll just wait for the MRI. We should get the results in the afternoon [Monday]. We'll kind of go one step at a time." More >
Greene leaves with blister: Just when the Tigers seemed to have the pitching advantage, getting to Cleveland's bullpen early, they lost their own starter to injury. Shane Greene had been pitching through a blister, but it broke open at some point before his walk to Francisco Lindor leading off the fourth. With Detroit's bullpen short on fresh arms after covering 6 2/3 innings Saturday, and just-recalled Matt Boyd used to a longer warmup routine as a starter, VerHagen entered and retired just four of the 12 batters he faced.
"VerHagen's pitched in tight situations before," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Felt like if VerHagen could get through that inning, get through a couple innings, if we could get a lead, now we'd still have those guys at the back end that might have the ability to hold the lead. They got a couple hits off VerHagen, but who gets ground balls at a better rate than anyone else in our bullpen? Well, the guy standing on the mound, Drew VerHagen, which is kind of why I stuck with him hoping he got a ground-ball double play and get out of it." More >
Breaking through: After Greene exited, Cleveland pounced on Detroit's bullpen. Between the fourth and fifth innings, the Indians pounded out six runs on eight hits. Ramirez (double), Byrd (single) and Tyler Naquin (triple) each had run-scoring hits in the fourth. One frame later, Ramirez and Byrd chipped in an RBI single apiece and Juan Uribe also drove in a run with a base hit.
"We knew we needed to [score after Greene left]," Francona said. "You're kidding yourself if you think they're not going to come back. The whole day, I kept thinking, 'I don't want Miggy to come up with the tying run,' and you just knew it was going to happen."
Mighty Miggy fouls out: Ausmus left the slumping Cabrera and Justin Upton out of Sunday's starting lineup to give them a day to clear their heads. When Victor Martinez's RBI double and back-to-back walks from Bryan Shaw to Castellanos and Jarrod Saltalamacchia loaded the bases with two outs in a 6-3 game, however, Ausmus turned to Cabrera to hit for Mike Aviles. Cabrera, who entered the day 4-for-12 as a pinch-hitter but 1-for-7 against Manship, went to a full count before popping out in front of the first-base dugout. Upton flied out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
"We thought Miggy was our best option offensively there," Ausmus said, "and that Upton was our best chance to get on base in the ninth." More >
"It's a fun experience. Coming in, I didn't know really who was up to bat until halfway in. I thought Aviles was still in the game, and then I could heard Miguel's song playing. The fans were going insane. So it was fun, definitely an enjoyable experience."
-- Manship, on facing Cabrera with the game on the line in the eighth inning
"We're not clicking right now offensively, or from a pitching standpoint, quite frankly. We're letting leads out early in the game and we're having trouble fighting back. We did a nice job of getting back in the game, loading the bases there against Shaw and Manship, which is good. The guys kept fighting. We're just not clicking offensively. It's a good offensive club. We're just not rolling." -- Ausmus, on the series sweep
After Carrasco's exit, Bauer came out of the bullpen and logged 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits and ended with four strikeouts and a walk in the emergency outing. If Carrasco's injury warrants a trip to the disabled list, which looks like a probable scenario, expect Bauer to transition back to the rotation. Bauer has been a starter for his entire career, but was moved to the bullpen to begin this season after Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin won the two vacancies in the rotation this past spring.
"Cookie [Carrasco] was cruising right along," Bauer said. "It was very unfortunate with what went down. Hopefully, he's OK. That's what was on my mind was, 'I hope he's OK.' I came up in the clubhouse to check on him after I got out of that inning. I think that's the biggest thing. The team played really well today."
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Danny Salazar (2-1, 1.47 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Indians on Monday, when the Tribe opens a three-game series with the Twins with an 8:10 p.m. ET tilt at Target Field. Before the game, manager Terry Francona and Cleveland's medical team will meet with left fielder Michael Brantley to discuss potentially activating him from the disabled list.
Tigers:Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 0.00 ERA) tries to continue his scoreless Tigers tenure Monday to open a four-game series against Oakland with a 7:10 p.m. ET start at Comerica Park. Detroit needs not only zeros from him, but innings, to rest a short bullpen.