Tigers’ bullpen delivers in clutch spots

Detroit Tigers

CLEVELAND — A leadoff hitter barely beating a throw for an infield single. A line-drive single after a fouled-off bunt attempt as the starter begins his third trip through the order. A slow roller down the third-base line off a 92 mph slider.

It’s the kind of bases-loaded jam that usually seems destined to doom the Tigers’ bullpen at Progressive Field, like watching John Wick get to the bad guy in an incredible fashion.

Not only did Detroit escape it in the sixth inning of a 2-1 win over the Indians on Saturday night behind Michael Fulmer, a pitcher who has been snakebit for most of his career in Cleveland, they escaped another bases-loaded threat with José Cisnero in the seventh, this one including an infield single from former Tigers catcher Wilson Ramos, then stranded two more runners behind Cisnero in the eighth.

And as the Tigers walked out of their former house of horrors with a series-evening win, having protected a lead built on a Zack Short sacrifice fly and an Akil Baddoo RBI single, they had to wonder if this is a sign of their fortunes changing in this division well beyond this weekend.

On a night when Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-3 with a walk, leaving his home run and hit totals unchanged, Detroit used 5 1/3 scoreless innings from converted reliever Tyler Alexander and a high-wire act from the bullpen to change their usual script here.

Alexander held Cleveland to two singles over his first five innings, the first time he has gone that long in an outing since the end of the 2019 season.

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