The Cleveland Indians had a chance to take the AL Central race to a new level of tight this week with a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers. But it was the Tigers who left Cleveland with a renewed feeling about their playoff chances.
Detroit took three of four from the Indians with an extra-innings win on Thursday night. The Tigers scored seven runs in the 11th inning to pull away from Cleveland for an easy 11-4 win.
Max Scherzer and Trevor Bauer opposed each other in what began as a great pitching matchup. Each had their struggles, but ended up throwing decent games. Bauer could not get through the first very easily when he gave up all four of his runs right off the bat. But he ended up hanging around for 5.2 total inning of work without surrendering anything more.
Scherzer didn't allow a run until the fourth when hit a sacrifice fly to left. He ended up giving up two more in the sixth (only one earned) before exiting with another quality start under his belt. The game would be decided by the bullpens, which neither team particularly trusts by now.
But both 'pens matched zeros until the 11th inning when Detroit broke it wide open. The Tigers' powerful offense put up seven runs in the 11th to give the game a look as if it were much more lop-sided than it actually was.
Eugenio Suarez came up with a pinch-hit two-run single to break the tie in the 11th against Josh Tomlin. Suarez's big hit proved to be just the beginning, though. Victor Martinez lifted a three-run bomb in the next at-bat to all but end it for Cleveland. Tomlin's night came to an end before Bryan Price came on to give up two more insurance runs for good measure. It was the third time in the last five games that Cleveland's bullpen either surrendered the lead late or got the loss, although it's tough to blame either 'pen for losing on Thursday night.
Impact on the standings
For Detroit, taking three out of four on the road against a Cleveland team that had just about swept Kansas City on the road in the series before (the two sides need to finish a game that Cleveland is leading 4-2 in the 10th). With KC idle on Thursday, the Tigers moved to within one game of the Royals, which is really more like half a game with KC's impending loss ready to hit its record later this month. Meanwhile, the Indians fall six games out of first and a full five behind Detroit.