Tigers boost WC hunt, slow Tribe's Central pursuit
By Jordan Bastian and Jason Beck
CLEVELAND -- Tempers ran high on Sunday within a rivalry that has been decisively one-sided in the Indians' favor this season. This time around, the Tigers got the best of the Tribe in a 9-5 victory at Progressive Field, where a series of errant pitches had Detroit's blood boiling.
"I have no problem pitching in, but three guys, that's gonna wake somebody up," said Tigers catcher James McCann.
The Tigers moved to two games outside the second American League Wild Card spot, tied with Seattle, after the Blue Jays lost in Anaheim, while Cleveland's magic number held at seven for clinching its first AL Central title in nine years.
Baltimore is one game ahead of Toronto in the AL Wild Card standings.
"It was necessary for us. We had to win," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Pretty much every game against Cleveland is a must-win."
"There were balls down, up, in, out," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Bauer's outing. "We never want to see somebody get hit in the head. You can see by Trevor's reaction how he felt. And then the [timing] of it, certainly, you could tell there's no intent. I also understand why they were aggravated. Guys were getting drilled pretty good. I get it."
J.D. Martinez, who finished a triple shy of a cycle, opened up the game for Detroit with a three-run homer off Indians rookie Joe Colon in the ninth.
Norris was charged with four runs (one earned) on five hits in his five innings, in which he struck out six and walked one. A pair of errors by Detroit's defense led to the trio of unearned runs. Two of those runs came in the fifth, after Kinsler misplayed a grounder up the middle from Cleveland's Jason Kipnis.
"You want to end that little streak they were on," Norris said. "We want to compete and show them that we mean business. It was a huge team win today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Losing control: Bauer worked around a few baserunners in the first two innings, but his command went missing in a 33-pitch third. The first four batters of the inning each reached via a pair of hit batsmen, one walk and a single by Cabrera. The fourth hitter in that sequence, Victor Martinez, was hit hard on the right leg by a pitch with the bases full. Later in the frame, Erick Aybar gave Detroit a 3-2 lead with a two-run single to right field.
"First off, I want to extend my apologies to Ian, Victor and Miguel," Bauer said. "The scouting report is to pitch in. I obviously did not intend to hit any of them. Regardless of game situation or anything that could happen in a game, I would never intentionally throw at someone's head. That has no place in the game. I know saying sorry for it doesn't change that it happened. I'm glad that he seemed to be OK and nothing else came of it."
Miggy's milestone: Cabrera's single off Bauer in the third marked the 2,500th hit of the slugger's career. Cabrera became the 100th player in baseball history to reach that milestone, but only the eighth to do so by his age-33 season. The others on that short list include Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Rogers Hornsby, Mel Ott, Alex Rodriguez and Robin Yount.
"I feel good," Cabrera said of the feat, "but like I always say, I need to keep going and try to do my job every day."
Upton, up and away: Upton had missed a chance to drive in runs when he chased a high fastball from Bauer with the bases loaded in the third inning. He did not miss Bauer's 2-1 fastball in the fifth, sending it over the high wall in the deepest part of left-center field. Nor did Upton miss a chance to punctuate it, flipping his bat and taking a slow trip around the bases. Statcast™ projected the home run at 451 feet, and the trot at 31.2 seconds, slowest by a Tiger other than Victor Martinez.
Indians catcher Chris Gimenez said he did not take exception to Upton's celebration, given the circumstances.
"Normally I would have," Gimenez said. "But, given the situation, I have to have a little bit longer of a leash on that. I completely understand it. He definitely took his time around the bases, too, but the situation of the game, I completely understand it."
Santana's shot: The Indians pulled within one run of the Tigers in the sixth inning, when Carlos Santana launched his 32nd home run of the season. The blast to center field traveled a projected 397 feet and had an exit velocity of 101 mph, per Statcast™. One batter later, Jose Ramirez reached with a single, trying to extend the Tribe's rally. That prospect was soon erased when the runner was picked off first by McCann.
Kinsler stayed in the game after being beaned, but was ejected after the bottom of the fifth inning by Baker. No reason was given, though Kinsler -- who had things to say when crossing home plate in the second inning -- and Cabrera were seen exchanging words with Baker on their way into the dugout at inning's end. Andrew Romine hit for Kinsler in the sixth and stayed in the game at third base, with Aybar moving to second.
Ausmus said he thought Baker misconstrued Kinsler gesturing to Cabrera about defensive positioning at the end of the inning.
"I think Jordan saw something that wasn't really happening," Ausmus said. "I really just think it was a misunderstanding."
"I feel bad -- I really do -- because that's not our intention. Obviously, we don't want to hurt anybody or anything like that. But, I understand they're upset. I get it. But, at the same point, we just had a bullpen day yesterday where we had to eat 10 innings. The last thing we want is our starter -- one of our last healthy starters -- to get thrown out of the game in the third inning." --Gimenez, on Bauer hitting three batters.
"I wasn't real happy about it. I don't believe that there was any intent on any of them, to be honest with you. But if you can't command the ball inside, you've got to maybe not go inside." -- Ausmus, on Bauer hitting three batters.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: After an off-day on Monday, the Tigers will meet the Twins for the second time in as many weeks, opening a three-game series at Target Field with an 8:10 p.m. ET contest on Tuesday. Matt Boyd (5-4, 4.43 ERA), who gave up seven runs over 3 2/3 innings to the Twins in his last outing, starts Tuesday.
Indians: Following an off-day on Monday, the Indians will open a three-game home series against the Royals with a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt on Tuesday at Progressive Field. Right-hander Josh Tomlin (12-8, 4.75) will get the nod for the Tribe. In his last outing, Tomlin spun five solid innings in a win over the White Sox.