Cleveland Indians Defeat Detroit Tigers in Justin Verlander’s Return


The Cleveland Indians were the first team this season to face Justin Verlander, and they walked away with a 5-4 win as the right-hander made his return to the mound on Saturday in Detroit. Verlander threw 87 pitches in five innings, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks, with a pair of strikeouts. Meanwhile, Carlos Carrasco got the start for the Tribe, pitching 5.2 innings and giving up seven hits and a walk en route to three runs, all while striking out eight batters.

Key Moments
Rajai Davis tripled to lead off the bottom of the first inning, scoring and giving the Tigers an early lead when Miguel Cabrera hit a one-out RBI single to right field. Detroit scored again in the third inning, after Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-out single to center field. J.D. Martinez doubled to bring him home, giving Cleveland a 2-0 deficit to climb out of.

To start the fourth inning, Carlos Santana hit a deep home run to right-center, but it didn’t take long for Detroit to make up that run. After hitting Jose Iglesias with a pitch, Carrasco allowed him to steal second base before giving up an RBI double to Davis. The Tribe was relentless, though, and they scored again in the fifth. Giovanny Urshela walked and Michael Bourn singled, before Verlander loaded the bases with another walk to Mike Aviles. With one down, Jason Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2 in favor of the Tigers.

The bullpen took over for the Tigers in the sixth inning, and Blaine Hardy immediately gave up a lead-off single to Michael Brantley. David Murphy hit the ball into the right field gap for a triple, allowing Brantley to score the tying run easily. Yan Gomes tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly. Murphy and Gomes combined again in the eighth inning, when Murphy was hit by a pitch and Gomes doubled to give the Tribe an insurance run. That run proved key, when Bryan Shaw gave up a lead-off home run to Martinez to start the bottom half of the inning.

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The Positives
While Carrasco didn’t have his best outing, he did strike out eight Tigers and keep the game in control until the Tribe could manage to score some runs. Allen also was outstanding, with a four-out save. He did a good job of keeping his cool after the umpires missed a check swing call against Cabrera in the ninth inning, allowing a pair of base runners but inducing a game-ending double play. Offensively, the Tribe did a good job of piecing together runs. While they couldn’t quite manage a big inning, they had a pair of sacrifice flies and several key hits that helped them stay in the game.

The Negatives
While giving up a homer to Martinez is certainly not a rare occurrence, Shaw has to do a better job of controlling the leads he’s given. Santana has also been disappointing lately – yes, he hit a home run on Saturday, but he couldn’t come through for the team in any other situation, and he’s batting just .222 this season. No one wants to say anything bad about him because he’s still getting walks, but the team truly needs to consider whether it’s a good idea to continue batting him between Kipnis and Brantley.

Check It Out
– Heading into this series, Tigers’ relievers had the eighth-best team ERA in all of baseball, at 3.19. Their bullpen wasn’t great on Saturday, but they’re no longer one of the worst relief crews in baseball, and the Tribe shouldn’t assume they’ll have a chance to score runs late when they play Detroit.

– On Sunday, Corey Kluber will take on Alfredo Simon in the final game of the series. Kluber is 3-7 with a 3.53 ERA, while Simon is 6-3 with a 2.76 ERA.  Kluber has struck out over twice as many batters as Simon has, and he’ll look to continue that trend in Detroit.

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