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May 22, 2014

What You Need to Know

Worst Sweeps First

by Chris Mosch


The Wednesday Takeaway
Wednesday’s action kicked off with a matinee at Progressive Field between the Indians and Tigers, with the visitors looking to avoid a three-game sweep. Cleveland fans certainly got their money’s worth, as the contest featured an abundance of offense, ejections, outfield assists and the home team walking off in bizarre fashion over five hours after the first pitch.

On the mound for the Indians was Zach McAllister, who failed to make it through five innings for the fourth time in five starts. The Tigers pushed across four runs in the top of the first inning, highlighted by a two-run home run by J.D. Martinez, who made McAllister pay for a 1-0 fastball he fired down the pipe. The Cleveland right-hander served up a solo blast to Victor Martinez to lead off the third inning and followed with a seven-pitch walk to J.D. Martinez, which was all Terry Francona needed to see to send McAllister to the showers.

However, the Indians were able to keep pace with the reigning AL Central champions by battering Max Scherzer to the tune of seven runs on 12 hits. It was the first time that Scherzer had surrendered seven runs since June 6, 2012, when he failed to make it out of the fifth inning at the hands of the Tribe. The bulk of the damage on Wednesday came during a five-run second inning, in which the Indians batted around and strung together a trio of two-baggers, three singles and a walk. Scherzer settled down after the five-spot, and lasted seven innings, needing just 57 pitches to get through the final five frames.

The Tigers took a 9-7 lead to the bottom of the ninth inning and turned to Joe Nathan to record his 12th save of the season. Nathan retired Asdrubal Cabrera via fly out to start the inning, but Michael Brantley laced a line drive to right field for a single—his third of four hits on the day—bringing David Murphy to the plate representing the tying run:


Murphy belted Nathan’s knee-high curveball over the right-center field wall to send the game to extras. The Indians nearly walked off on a sacrifice fly the next inning, but Rajai Davis gunned down Lonnie Chisenhall—who unwisely looked back over his shoulder a few steps after tagging—at the plate to ensure more free baseball.

With McAllister failing to make it out of the third inning, Cleveland’s bullpen was quickly depleted. With the only remaining reliever, Cody Allen, unavailable after pitching three days in a row, Francona was forced to turn to Thursday’s scheduled starter, Josh Tomlin, to begin the 11th inning. Tomlin struck out the side in the 11th and turned in a clean 12th inning, but with two outs in the 13th, he left a pitch intended to be at the knees to Alex Avila up at the letters, and the Detroit catcher jumped all over the offering for a solo shot to gave his club a 10-9 lead.

However, Phil Coke—pitching his second inning of relief—was unable to lock down the win for Detroit. With runners at first and second, and one out, Michael Brantley took advantage of a hanging slider from Coke and drove in the tying run with a single through the left side of the infield. After retiring Murphy on a groundout, Coke was pulled in favor of Al Alburquerque, who intentionally walked Yan Gomes to load the bases. Following a first-pitch ball to Ryan Raburn, Alburquerque made a fateful flinch prior to coming set, which clinched the win and series sweep for the Tribe.

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Baseball ProGUESTus: A... (05/22)
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