Detroit Tigers betrayed by bats and ugly defense, swept by Cleveland in 5-2 loss

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers continued their lifeless offense in the top of the eighth inning. They had a chance to even the score or take the lead, but squandered the opportunity with three consecutive strikeouts.

Facing Cleveland right-handed reliever James Karinchak, Robbie Grossman took a leadoff walk and, after Willi Castro struck out swinging, stole second base. Still, Karinchak registered two more strikeouts — getting Niko Goodrum and Renato Nunez to swing-and-miss — to put the Tigers away with authority.

Righty Emannuel Clase wiggled out of a ninth-inning jam to complete the job. The Tigers (3-6) were swept by Cleveland with a 5-2 loss Sunday at Progressive Field. Detroit has lost six of its past seven games, including four in a row.

During the three-game series, the Tigers managed six runs, 13 hits and six walks. Cleveland had 20 runs, 23 hits and 13 walks.

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Two ugly throwing errors from right fielder Nomar Mazara allowed Cleveland to tack on two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Righty Jose Cisnero, who pitched the entire seventh inning, was yanked with no outs in the eighth. Left-hander Gregory Soto entered, struck out three batters and did not allow further damage.

The Tigers travel to take on visit the Houston Astros at 8:10 p.m. Monday, beginning a three-game series and continuing their 10-game road trip. Right-hander Casey Mize is starting, opposed by righty Zack Greinke.

It will be manager AJ Hinch’s first time back in Minute Maid Park since getting fired by the Astros and handed a season-long MLB suspension in January 2020 for his role in the sign-stealing scandal.

Urena up-and-down

Following a dominant 11-pitch first inning, Tigers right-hander Jose Urena needed 34 pitches to get through the second inning. He gave up his first of two runs on Jake Bauers’ grounder to second base with one out in the second. The Tigers were unable to turn the double play.

In the third, Urena allowed a leadoff double to Andres Gimenez, who was plated by an ensuing Cesar Hernandez single to right field. Urena finished 4⅔ innings with two runs on three hits and five walks, with four strikeouts.

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He tossed 85 pitches (47 strikes), using 28 sinkers, 26 four-seam fastballs, 22 sliders and nine changeups. He got five swings-and-misses — two each with his sinker and slider — and eight called strikes.

Similar to Urena’s first start, he struggled to throw strikes and got into seven three-ball counts. After getting two outs in the fifth inning, he walked Jose Ramirez on four pitches, forcing Hinch to call on his bullpen.

Ramos slugging

Catcher Wilson Ramos has homered in four of his past five games — including in each of the past three — to lift an otherwise silent offense amid the four-game losing streak. It’s the second time the 33-year-old has homered in three straight games, doing it April 26-28, 2018, with the Tampa Bay Rays.

On Sunday, Ramos drove a 92.7 mph fastball above the strike zone from right-handed reliever Nick Wittgren 407 feet to center field. It came off his bat at 107.3 mph.

The Tigers tacked on their first run in the top of the first inning. Jeimer Candelario drove in Grossman, who was hit by a pitch, with a bloop single to right field against Indians starter Logan Allen. He gave up one run on two hits and three walks, with five strikeouts, across five innings.

This season, Ramos is 6-for-21 (.286) with one double, four home runs, four RBIs, three walks and nine strikeouts. In his 12th year in the majors, he signed a one-year, $2 million contract this offseason after playing for the New York Mets in 2019-20.

Only five home runs were hit between three catchers last season: Grayson Greiner (three), Austin Romine (two) and Eric Haase (zero).

Nunez debuts

After the Tigers put 37-year-old Miguel Cabrera on the 10-day injured list with a left biceps strain, first baseman Renato Nunez was added from the alternate training site to the 40-man roster. He started Sunday’s game as the designated hitter; Jonathan Schoop played first base.

It was Nunez’s first game for the Tigers, after getting cut in spring training. He went 0-for-3 with one walk and three strikeouts.

Tigers’ Renato Nunez hungry to become ‘everyday first baseman’ ]

This is Nunez’s sixth season. Previously, he played for the Oakland Athletics (2016-17), Texas Rangers (2018) and Orioles (2018-20). He has 141 games as a designated hitter, 81 as a third baseman, 52 as a first baseman and eight as a left fielder.

Before joining the Tigers on a minor-league deal this winter, Nunez had a career .248 batting average, 52 home runs and 147 RBIs in 293 career contests.

The Tigers hope Nunez can handle the bulk of the first baseman duties moving forward. He is likely to start the first two games against the Astros in the infield, before shifting back to the designated hitter spot for the series finale.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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