The Cleveland Indians earned a much-needed sweep of the Detroit Tigers, keeping pace with the Twins in the AL Central playoff race.
After losing Jose Ramirez for what is likely to be the remainder of the regular season, the Cleveland Indians were in need of a win. Well, three wins, to be more precise.
The Tribe got them all, finishing off a sweep of the Detroit Tigers earlier on Thursday afternoon. It was a series in which everything (almost literally) went right for the Indians.
They broke out to a stress-free, 10-1 victory in the series opener, thanks in large part to an opposite-field, two-run blast off the bat of Jason Kipnis (a remarkable feat for a lefty at Comerica Park) that put the Indians up 3-0 in the first inning.
The Tigers would remain within striking distance until a three-run moonshot from Franmil Reyes in the seventh inning. Roberto Perez would add to the total two batters later with a two-run job of his own.
Tuesday’s offensive eruption was a sight for sore eyes, as Cleveland provided starter Adam Plutko with some well-deserved run support. Plutko was coming off a tough no-decision in which he held the Mets to two earned runs a week earlier.
The Indians took Game 1 in convincing fashion, setting the tone for how the rest of the series would play out.
Wednesday’s game was more closely contested on the scoreboard, but at no point did the Tigers look poised to steal one away. Aaron Civale authored another gem, logging seven innings and surrendering two earned runs for his fifth quality start of the season.
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Civale was in line for a no-decision before Francisco Lindor blasted a solo home run to left-center field in the eighth inning, finally putting the the rookie on the hook for a victory.
Kipnis helped the Indians’ cause as well, kicking things off with a solo shot in the second and icing the victory with another in the ninth. He hit three total home runs in the series, contributing greatly to the team effort that will be necessary to replace Ramirez in the middle of the order.
Nick Goody and Brad Hand would finish things off in a 4-2 triumph, with the latter pitching a flawless ninth inning for the save.
The series finale ran somewhat parallel to Wednesday’s contest. Lindor crushed another home run to put the Indians up 1-0 in the third, and would later hit a sacrifice fly for the Tribe’s only insurance run of the game.
Two runs were more than enough for Mike Clevinger. The flame-throwing righty casually struck out 10 Detroit hitters, allowing four hits, no walks, and no runs. Clevinger’s eight-inning effort also helped preserve the bullpen heading into what is sure to be a scrappy weekend series in Tampa Bay. Hand finished things off in the ninth, retiring the top of Detroit’s lineup in quick succession.
If you could map out how you’d like to sweep a series, this seems like a pretty ideal way to do it. One lopsided hose-down to get things started, followed by an impressive outing from a rookie in which the offense answered the bell late in the game, finished off with a dominant performance from arguably the ace of your staff.
Not to mention your struggling closer having back-to-back opportunities to get his swagger back against a lineup that doesn’t seemingly hit a home run every 90 seconds.
Don’t look now, but Hand has four saves in the Indians’ last six games. Yes, they’ve come against the Royals and Tigers, but it’s a tremendous boost to his confidence nonetheless. The Indians are back at it on Friday in sunny Tampa Bay, where they’ll inexplicably spend all weekend playing in a dimly lit dome.