Road-weary Tigers fall in 10th
CLEVELAND (AP) – The Detroit Tigers walked sleepily into Progressive Field just a few hours before the game wearing pajama-like outfits. By the end of a long day, they were beaten and ready for bed.
Michael Brantley homered with two outs in the 10th inning off Al Alburquerque, giving the Cleveland Indians a 5-4 win over the drowsy Tigers on Monday night.
Detroit’s players – and equipment – arrived just three hours before the first pitch after mechanical problems with their plane forced the Tigers to stay an extra night in Boston. All things considered, they were pretty jovial as they got ready to play the series opener.
But following Cleveland’s walk-off win, the Tigers were looking for nothing but their beds.
“We knew the game would end at some point, and we’d be able to go back and get some sleep,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “We were hoping to go back and get some sleep with a win, but it wasn’t to be.”
Brantley connected on a 3-2 pitch from Alburquerque (1-1), driving it into the Tigers’ bullpen to end Cleveland’s four-game losing streak. He held onto the bat until he nearly reached first, and then let go once he realized the ball had cleared the wall. Brantley was greeted at home by his teammates, who doused him with water in celebration.
Scott Atchison (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th, retiring Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez for the first two outs.
Detroit’s J.D. Martinez hit a pinch-hit homer in the ninth to tie it 4-all, but the Tigers, perhaps out of gas at the end of their marathon day of travel, couldn’t muster more magic in extra innings.
The loss snapped the Tigers’ six-game winning streak and an 11-game run on the road.
Although his players were dragging from the outset, Ausmus didn’t use the travel delays as an excuse.
“The guys did a good job getting themselves prepared to play,” Ausmus said. “They were fine. The Indians were just better tonight.”
Victor Martinez hit his 11th homer for Detroit, which still has the majors’ best record at 27-13.
With Detroit two outs from losing its road winning streak, Martinez homered off interim closer Cody Allen to tie it 4-all.
Batting for shortstop Andrew Romine, Martinez drove a 1-0 pitch over the wall in center, just over the glove of leaping outfielder Michael Bourn at the wall. It was Martinez’s first homer in 40 at-bats and it came at the perfect time for the sleep-deprived Tigers, who earlier rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie it in the fifth.
Tigers starter Drew Smyly flew ahead of his teammates and stayed in Cleveland on Sunday night. The left-hander got his rest and credited his teammates for playing through any fatigue.
“It says a lot about our offense,” Smyly said. “They didn’t even sleep last night and they were coming on strong tonight. They came back and tied it once and then they tied it again in the ninth.”
Cleveland badly needed a strong outing, and Corey Kluber came through. The right-hander allowed eight hits and struck out eight in seven innings. He contained the AL’s best hitting club and didn’t show any fear while pitching inside to Cabrera, who didn’t seem pleased with the right-hander’s challenge.
Kluber set the tone early when he started Cabrera off with a high, inside pitch in the first that annoyed baseball’s most feared hitter. Cabrera took his time getting back into the batter’s box as Kluber waited patiently. Cabrera, who came in batting .417 with three homers against Kluber, struck out and then shot a menacing stare toward the right-hander, who ignored it.
NOTES: Cabrera is batting .462 (18 of 39) during a 10-game hitting streak. … Tigers OF Austin Jackson got a planned night off. … Martinez is batting .369 (66 of 179) with six homers and 40 RBIs against the Indians, the team he broke into the majors with. … Ex-Tigers manager Jim Leyland watched the game from the press box. Leyland, who retired after last season, is a special assistant to general manager Dave Dombrowski. … Detroit’s starters came in with a major league-best 2.64 ERA. … Justin Verlander will start Tuesday’s game against Indians RHP Trevor Bauer, who will be recalled to make his second start.