"Nothing is working right now, basically," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Saturday's loss featured the same problems that have followed the Tribe for more than a week. There was a poor outing from a starting pitcher (Ubaldo Jimenez), leading to an substantial early deficit. In turn, there was a lack of life from a lineup that has been asked to forge comeback after comeback -- with no luck -- throughout this three-city swing.
The end result is the third-longest losing streak in the American League this season, trailing only the 12-game skid by the Royals in April and the nine-game slide suffered by the A's between May and June. The eight-game drought for Cleveland (50-57) is the longest for the ballclub since its 11-game slump in 2009.
The Indians sat just 3 1/2 behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central when the club embarked on this road trip. Now, Cleveland is staring at a deficit of 8 1/2 games that has put the team's season on life support. The men inside the Tribe's clubhouse are doing all they can to keep their chins up.
"There's still two months to go," said Indians infielder Jose Lopez. "The season's over on the last day. Maybe it could happen to Detroit -- a losing streak. Maybe it could happen to Chicago. You never know. We have to face Chicago again and Detroit. It's not done yet."
Credit must be given to Fister, considering the way he marched his way through the Indians' lineup throughout the muggy evening. Not even a 37-minute rain delay in the bottom of the second inning could throw a wrench into Fister's work. The right-hander mowed down the first 17 Cleveland hitters and ended with four hits allowed in a complete game.
"Fister, he usually pitches good against us," Acta said. "On the positive side, we hit a lot of balls hard to dead center, which is not the place to hit it here. He did what he always does. He pitches ahead, changes speed and has that good curveball. He pretty much just manhandled us."
Fister did flinch for a moment in the sixth inning.
With two outs, Ezequiel Carrera laced a pitch from Fister to deep center field, where speedy outfielder Austin Jackson was unable to track it down. Rare is the ball that drops over Jackson's head, but Carrera achieved the feat and wound up with a triple. He made it no further.
In the ninth inning, Carrera came through again, slicing a pitch from Fister to left-center and sprinting around the bags for his second triple of the night. Carrera scored on a groundout from Jason Kipnis, but that is where Cleveland's rally stopped.
The Tigers, on the other hand, had their way with Jimenez.
Jimenez walked Prince Fielder in the second inning and promptly watched Brennan Boesch turn on a pitch for a run-scoring triple. Delmon Young brought Boesch home with a sacrifice fly to right field. Jhonny Peralta got back at his old club in the fourth, when he delivered a two-run triple with two outs against Jimenez.
"It's kind of too bad," Acta said, "because Ubaldo was one pitch away from having a quality start."
Jimenez, who struck out four and walked four, said Detroit beat him on a handful of good pitches.
"To tell you the truth, I felt really good," Jimenez said. "I was able to let it go and you saw my breaking ball. The only thing is that I think they were better."
Omar Infante added an RBI single in the fourth and a sac fly in the sixth, rounding out Detroit's showing against Cleveland's starter. Jimenez was charged with six runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, providing the Tribe with -- believe it or not -- one of the better starting pitching performances on this forgettable trip through Minnesota, Kansas City and Detroit.
Indians starters have combined to go 0-7 with a 12.08 ERA over the eight-game skid.
"It's something that I've never seen before," Acta said, "this streak of non-quality starts that we're having right now. You're never done seeing new things in this game. Even in 2007, when I started the rebuilding process in D.C., where we had to practically run a tryout camp just to come up with four starters at the beginning of the season, I never went through something like this.
"Something's got to give."
Jimenez's outing represented only the fourth time in the past eight games that an Indians starter lasted longer than five innings. The six runs allowed were the third-fewest yielded by a starter on the trip, which has seen Derek Lowe designated for assignment, Josh Tomlin booted to the bullpen and rookie Corey Kluber summoned from Triple-A.
For Sunday's finale in Detroit, the Indians plan on promoting left-hander Chris Seddon to start, even though he has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2010. Cleveland is hoping he can at least provide the club with a chance to win, and finally bring an end to this season-crippling stretch of games gone awry.
"We've got to keep on going," Acta said. "Hopefully, tomorrow, the young kid [Seddon] will come up and give us a lift."