Detroit – Here’s a sentence you haven’t heard much in recent years.
The Tigers have won two straight over the Cleveland Indians. After beating the reigning American League Cy Young winner Shane Bieber 3-2 on Opening Day, they broke open a close game with a three-run seventh inning in a 5-2 win Saturday.
For six innings, though, this was another nail-biter.
In three previous games against Cleveland starter Zach Plesac, the Tigers managed just one run in 17 innings. They doubled that in the first inning Saturday. Jeimer Candelario walked with one out, which is newsworthy since Plesac walked just six batters last year.
Candelario then scored from first on a triple to left-center by Willi Castro. Castro scored on a ground ball by Miguel Cabrera. And that’s all the offense the Tigers could generate against Plesac, who worked six innings.
The Tigers jumped on reliever Nick Wittgren in the seventh. After a single by JaCoby Jones and a walk to Robbie Grossman (he has six walks in two games), Candelario laced an RBI double inside the bag at third, scoring Jones.
Candelario had a day — two singles, a double and a walk.
After Miguel Cabrera walked to load the bases with one out, Jonathan Schoop scored Grossman with a sacrifice fly and Nomar Mazara, who had three hits, singled Cabrera home.
But before that outburst, a trio of Tigers pitchers did sturdy work maintaining a skinny one-run cushion.
Julio Teheran, a two-time All-Star who came to camp as a non-roster invitee, gave the Tigers five solid innings. The only blemish was a 2-2 sinker that Eddie Rosario blasted into the right-field seats.
Teheran navigated through trouble in the third, fourth and fifth, but was helped by two double-play balls. A two-out walk to Ben Gamel and the looming presence of Indians slugger Jose Ramirez in the fifth created some anxiety for manager AJ Hinch.
As Teheran’s pitch count climbed toward 90, he went to a full-count against Cesar Hernandez. Hinch had lefty Derek Holland warm up in the bullpen. Had Hernandez gotten on, Hinch’s choice would have been to stay with a faltering Teheran or bring in Holland, which would have flipped Ramirez to the right-handed batter’s box where he has been more dangerous in recent years.
He never had to make that choice. Teheran got Hernandez to fly out to right field.
Holland worked a scoreless sixth and Michael Fulmer, in the first relief outing of his big-league career, pitched a clean seventh.
The Indians got a run in the eighth against lefty Tyler Alexander. After one-out singles by Hernandez and Ramirez, Rosario lifted a sacrifice fly to center.
Bryan Garcia got the last four outs to earn his first save.
By the way, when was the last time you saw the sentence: The Tigers have won two straight over the Cleveland Indians? May 14-15, 2018.
Our special thanks to:detroitnews.com